Millions of Americans suffer from chronic knee pain. Often the culprits are bone marrow lesions (BMLs) - areas of microscopic fractures resulting from weakened bone in the knee joint.
In the past, there hasn't been an ideal way to treat BMLs, says Dr. Forest Heis. However, a new procedure called Subchondroplasty offers an effective and minimally invasive solution.
When patients complain of chronic, non-acute knee pain that's been lasting for a few weeks, the first course of treatment will be common sense things such as ice, elevation, anti-inflammatory medications and avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain, Dr. Heis says.
Long-standing pain that isn't responding to more conservative treatments typically leads the physician to order an MRI. An MRI may reveal issues with the knee such as a torn meniscus, but sometimes it may reveal that the patient has areas of BMLs.
In addition to pain, BMLs are associated with a much greater risk for developing osteoarthritis. Further patients with BMLs tend to require knee replacement surgery at much higher rates and at a younger age than those who don't have BMLs.