Bone Marrow Edema

Bone marrow edema (BME) is a condition characterized by accumulation of excessive fluid in related structures of bone marrow. Usually injury of the bones may induce fluid accumulation, as a result of the protective mechanism of our body. In addition, BME may be caused due to underlying disease conditions such as osteoporosis and tumors. 

Bone marrow is a spongy and flexible structure present inside bones and is involved in the generation of new blood cells such as RBC, WBC, and platelets. These blood cells are involved in oxygen transport, fighting infection and blood clotting to prevent excessive bleeding from an injury.


The main causes responsible for bone marrow edema include:

  • Bone fractures
  • Ligament injury
  • Bone bruises
  • Medical conditions such as synovitis (inflammation of the synovial membrane, lining the joints)
  • Joint disorders such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis
  • Bone tumors

Signs and symptoms

Bone marrow edema may or may not show any symptoms. The main symptom associated with BME is pain in the affected bone and severity of the pain depends upon the underlying cause (s). Other symptoms include dysfunction of the bone or joint, due to the accumulated fluid.


Bone marrow edema can be diagnosed through a widely used imaging technique, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


The treatment of bone marrow edema depends upon the underlying causes involved for inflammation and fluid accumulation. Symptoms of BME can be alleviated through adequate care of involved injuries and specific management of the underlying medical conditions. The treatment options include rest, medications, steroid injections or surgery. Surgery is recommended only when non-surgical interventions fail to provide any relief from the symptoms of BME. Surgery is preferred in conditions such as to repair the damaged ligament, pin fractures and for removing tumors. Current treatment of bone marrow edema does not cure the condition, but only helps in alleviating the associated symptoms.