What Is Bone Marrow Edema?


Bone marrow edema, or swelling, results from several conditions and is a relatively common disorder. Increasing use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is helping physicians more effectively diagnose bone marrow edema when patients report symptoms.

Associated Disorders

  • Bone marrow edema is sometimes associated with bone injuries and disorders. They include fractures, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and tumors.


  • Bone marrow edema may be a sign of additional problems related to these disorders, such as damaged cartilage. It may be an initial indication of impending joint erosion or tendon calcification.


  • The primary symptoms of bone marrow edema are severe pain and limited movement, both during exercise and while resting.


  • Bone marrow edema syndrome, a distinct disorder involving bone marrow edema, is a common cause of bone and joint pain in middle-age and older patients, according to a study published in the April 11, 2008, issue of BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.

Time Frame

  • Bone marrow edema syndrome most commonly occurs in the hip, but also surfaces in the knee and foot. The condition usually resolves on its own within six to 12 months. Conservative treatment may involve physical therapy and a vasodilator medication to improve blood flow.

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