What causes acute bone pain crisis in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) and what are the symptoms?

Updated: May 12, 2021
  • Author: Joseph E Maakaron, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Acute bone pain crisis is caused by bone marrow ischemia or infarction. These crises usually start after age 2-3 years and occur as gnawing, progressive pain, most commonly in the humerus, tibia, and femur and less commonly in the facial bones. Periarticular pain and joint effusion, often associated with a sickle cell crisis, are considered a result of ischemia and infarction of the synovium and adjacent bone and bone marrow.

Patients with acute bone pain crisis usually present with fever, leukocytosis, and warmth and tenderness around the affected joints. This process tends to affect the knees and elbows, mimicking rheumatic fever and septic arthritis.

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