Understanding Bone Marrow Edema: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

The medical term “edema” (spelled with one “m”) is used to describe the buildup of fluid in tissues.
A disorder known as bone marrow edema is defined by the buildup of extra fluid or excessive fluid over than normal range in the bone marrow, which causes swelling and inflammation. A soft, spongy tissue called bone marrow can be seen inside the cavities or spaces of bones. It comprises various cell types, including connective tissue, fat, and blood-forming stem cells.

Causes Of Bone Marrow Edema

This illness can be caused by several factors, including:

Trauma And Injuries

This includes acute injuries like fractures, dislocations, and sprains, as well as chronic injuries like repetitive stress, which means both types of injuries can lead to this disorder. Trauma-like accidents and injuries can cause damage to the bone and neighboring tissues, leading to inflammation and the accumulation of excess fluid in the bone marrow.


Osteoarthritis is a common degenerative joint condition that develops as the cartilage that cushions the joints ages and wears off, causing the bones to scrape or rub against one another. This may cause the joint, particularly the bone marrow, to enlarge and become inflamed and a person feels severe pain.



Osteoporosis is a disorder that causes bones to lose density and mass, making them brittle and fragile. As a result, swelling and inflammation may be more likely to affect the bone marrow.

Additional Medical Problems

Lupus, sickle cell anemia, and other autoimmune disorders are among the ailments that can cause bone marrow edema. As a side effect, radiation therapy and a few cancer treatments can also result in swollen bone marrow.

You May Also Like To Read: Proton Therapy For Lung Cancer: What You Need to Know

Infections Which Cause Bone Marrow Edema

This disorder can result from a number of illnesses, including:

Osteomyelitis_Osteomyelitis is a bacterial infection of the bone that can result in bone marrow enlargement and inflammation.

Septic arthritis_Septic arthritis is a joint infection brought on by bacteria or other microorganisms that can extend to the bone marrow and result in edema.

Lyme disease_joint swelling and the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi can all be symptoms of the tick-borne illness Lyme disease.

Viral infections_ A number of viral illnesses, including hepatitis and parvovirus, can cause edema in the bone marrow.

You May Also Like To Read: Does Carbonated Water Hydrate You? A Comprehensive Guide

Cancers That Cause Bone Marrow Edema

There is a list of cancers that also causes this disorder:

  1. Multiple myeloma
  2. Leukemia
  3. Lymphoma
  4. Metastatic bone cancer

Treatment for this disorder caused by cancer may involve a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other medications depending on the type and stage of cancer.

Symptoms Of Bone Marrow Edema

Several signs of bone marrow edema can include:

Pain_The most prevalent sign of bone marrow edema is pain. Movement or weight-bearing activities may make the pain worse, whether it is subtle or acute. Sleeping may be disrupted by the pain, which may also be present while at rest.

Swelling_ Inflammation and swelling may also be evident in the affected area. The area may appear swollen or puffy and feel heated to the touch as a result of this.

limited range of motion_Stiffness and restricted range of motion can be brought on by bone marrow edema in the afflicted joint or bone. This may make it challenging to carry out common tasks like bending, reaching, or walking.

You May Also Like To Read: Dangerous Spiculated Nodule: What You Need to Know About It

Diagnosis Of Bone Marrow Edema

Imaging studies like MRIs, CT scans, or X-rays are frequently used to identify bone marrow edema.


The most accurate imaging test for bone marrow edema is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It produces precise images of the interior of the body, including the bones and soft tissues, using strong magnets and radio waves. MRI is a useful tool for identifying bone marrow edema because it can reveal abnormalities in the bone marrow before they are seen on X-rays or CT scans.


X-rays are used to provide fine cross-sectional images of the body, including the bones, in CT scans (Computed Tomography). While CT scans can aid in the identification of bone abnormalities such as fractures, they might not be as accurate as MRI in the detection of bone marrow edema.


Radiation is used in X-rays to produce images of the bones. They may not be as sensitive as MRI or CT scans in diagnosing bone marrow edema, but they can still show changes in bone density, fractures, or other abnormalities.

Can Bone Marrow Edema Be Cancer

Although bone marrow edema is not a specific type of cancer, it can be a sign or consequence of some cancers. By invading the bone marrow with aberrant cells, disturbing its regular function, and causing inflammation and swelling, cancer can result in the development of this disorder.

In order to rule out any possible cancer or other significant medical diseases, it is crucial to look into the underlying cause of bone marrow edema if it is found. To identify the source of this bone disorder and create a suitable treatment plan, a doctor may carry out a number of procedures, including blood tests, imaging scans, or a bone marrow biopsy.

What Is Bone Marrow Edema Knee

Bone marrow edema can occur in different parts of the body, including the knee if this disease occurs in the knee then it is referred to as Bone Marrow Edema Knee.

What Is Bone Marrow Edema Foot

Bone marrow edema can occur in different parts of the body, including the foot if this disease occurs in the foot then it is referred to as Bone Marrow Edema Foot.

Is bone marrow edema painful?

Yes, bone marrow edema can be painful. The severity of the pain can vary depending on the underlying cause of the condition and the location of the affected bone or joint.

Treatment Options For Bone Marrow Edema

The treatment options for bone marrow edema depend on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Some common treatment options include:

Rest And Ice

Applying ice to the injured joint or bone can help reduce discomfort and swelling. Resting the affected area often helps.


Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory medications, such as paracetamol, may be used to treat pain and inflammation. Injections of corticosteroids may be advised in specific circumstances to lessen swelling and inflammation.


Physical therapy

Physical therapy can increase the range of motion, lessen discomfort and stiffness, and build up the muscles that surround an injured joint or bone.


To replace or repair broken bones or joints in extreme cases, surgery may be required. This might be the situation if a fracture or other structural injury is what is causing the bone marrow edema.

You May Also Like To Read: Understanding Corneal Edema: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Prevention Of Bone Marrow Edema

While there are some precautions that can be taken to lower the chance of having bone marrow edema, not all occurrences of the condition can be prevented. These are some preventative measures that could be useful:

Healthy Lifestyle_Keeping a healthy lifestyle can help lower the chance of acquiring illnesses like osteoporosis or osteoarthritis, which can raise the risk of bone marrow edema. A balanced diet, frequent exercise, and maintaining a moderate weight can all assist.

Protect Bones_The risk of bone fractures and other injuries that might result in bone marrow edema can be decreased by wearing protective equipment, such as knee or elbow pads, during high-risk activities like contact sports or skateboarding.

Avoiding overuse injuries_Overuse injuries can occur when a person engages in repetitive activities that put a strain on the bones and joints. To reduce the risk of overuse injuries, it’s important to gradually build up to more intense physical activities, take breaks when needed, and use proper form and technique during exercises.


A disorder name Bone Marrow Edema is characterized by excessive fluid buildup in the bone marrow. Causes of bone marrow include trauma, injuries, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, and additional medical problems. Some infections also cause this illness. Symptoms of this disorder show swelling in the affected area, continuing pain, and stiffness. Diagnosis includes MRI, X-rays, CT scans, etc. Treatment options are available like medications, rest, and physical therapy.

Video Credits:

Donald E. Pelto, DPM

Was this article helpful?

Leave a Comment