The primary symptom of bone marrow edema is pain, states Dr. Howard J. Luks, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist. Other possible symptoms include swelling and dysfunction of the joint, such as difficulty moving the knee. In some cases, bone marrow edema displays no symptoms and heals without treatment.
Bone marrow edema is a condition in which the bone accumulates excess fluid, explains hip and knee surgeon Dr. Robert J. Daley. This condition is normally caused by injuries to the bone such as fractures or bruises. When a bone is damaged, it collects fluid in response to the injury. Because bone cannot swell to accommodate the excess fluid, pressure in the bone causes the pain and inflammation associated with bone marrow edema, according to Dr. Luks. More serious bone disorders such as osteoarthritis or osteonecrosis can also cause bone marrow edema.
Bone marrow edema is usually diagnosed by an MRI scan, notes Dr. Daley. Most cases of bone marrow edema are treated with rest and steroidal medication. If bone marrow edema is caused by osteoarthritis, a procedure called subchondroplasty may be required. This surgery involves injecting a paste into the bone, which strengthens the bone and helps reduce further degenerative damage, describes Dr. Luks.