Bone marrow edema in simple terms is accumulation of fluid in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is a soft tissue in the interior of bone. It is considered vital for the body, because the important constituents of the blood such as white blood cells, red blood cells are produced in the marrow.
Edema in the marrow is generally seen on MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Fluid buildup in bone marrow is just a symptom of different underlying conditions and injury to the bone. In most cases the condition heals on its own within few months. However, the initial treatment for alleviating pain remains rest, ice fomentation, medicines and limiting rigorous activity.
What Are The Causes Of Bone Marrow Edema?
Bone marrow edema can result from several different underlying causes. Just like any organ in the body responding to an injury, fluid buildup in marrow can occur due to any type of stress to the bone. It can be a meager hairline crack or a major fracture or for that instance even injuries to surrounding ligaments.
Bone marrow edema also occurs in certain bone and joint disorders. It is commonly observed in conditions like osteoarthritis and osteoporosis where the bone or the joint comes under stress due to thinning of the cushioning cartilage. At certain point excessive stress can result in fracture and buildup of fluid in the bone marrow.
Bone marrow edema is also seen in bone tumor. The pressure of tumor on the bone causes compression on the marrow which results in accumulation of fluid.
Symptoms Of Bone Marrow Edema
Bone marrow edema is mainly seen in middle aged men. One of the most common symptoms is pain. Pain is felt in the area of edema in bone marrow. There may be associated swelling, but it is more appreciable on MRI.
In fact sometimes people suffering from osteoarthritis may be having more pain because of edema in the bone marrow rather than osteoarthritis itself. In some cases pregnant woman experience the pain during the last trimester in long bones. The affected site is tender to touch.
Treatment Options For Bone Marrow Edema
Treating the edema in bone marrow largely depends on the underlying disease. If the condition has occurred due to an injury to the bone, normally edema subsides over a period of time. It may take few months to heal. The usual treatment is meant to alleviate the pain. Patient is advised to take rest for few days or week when there is acute pain. Rest hastens healing and recovery time.
Cold fomentation and anti inflammatory medicines are effective in controlling severe pain. Patient is advised to limit his activities. If the pain increases or remains for a long period of time, steroid injections may need to be given directly in the affected site to reduce inflammation.
As a last resort, surgery may be required to remove the damaged part or if a tumor is present, it has to be removed surgically.