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Sports Medicine

Bone marrow edema

09/17/2008

Question:

My 15 year old daughter who pitches fractured her thumb/hand in two places but only one fracture showed up on the Xray, now after hurting for months and after having an MRI it has been dertimined she has bone marrow edema, what does she need to do to heal properly?

Answer:

Although bone fractures typically heal within 4-6 weeks, some fractures take more time than this, and some do not heal and may require surgery. The question regarding what your daughter needs to do - and not do - to heal properly needs to be directed to her orthopedist, who is aware of the specifics of her case, including the findings from her X-rays and MRI scan.

Bone marrow edema typically accompanies a fracture, since both are a response to bone injury. Bone marrow edema - or fluid within the bone marrow - may or may not be related to her persisting pain symptoms. Forces sufficient to fracture bone and cause bone marrow edema are also sufficient to injure ligaments (soft tissue connecting one bone to another), which if present, may or may not show up on MRI. Your daughter's orthopedist is the appropriate person to ask whether or not the time course of her recovery is slower than expected, and if so, why.

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Response by:

Brian L Bowyer, MD Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University