Subchondral sclerosis: Symptoms & Treatment

Subchondral sclerosis refers to a thickening of the bone in joints which can affect people who have osteoarthritis and cause painful bone spurs. It usually occurs in joints of the knee, hip, spine, and foot and most commonly developed in the later stages of osteoarthritis.

Women are more likely to be affected than men. For men, they are more likely to develop subchondral sclerosis under the age of 50.


Patients with subchondral sclerosis may feel symptoms as follows:

  • pressure and pain within the bone.
  • painful bone spurs.
  • a reduce motion range in the affected joint.
  • the loss of height, especially if the knee, hip, or spine are affected.
  • the locking of the joint when subchondral sclerosis occurs in the knee.


According to some studies, some causes related to subchondral sclerosis include:

  • osteoarthritis
  • a degeneration of bones, joint and cartilage
  • genetic predisposition
  • previous joint injury
  • joint malalignment
  • abnormal joint shape
  • obesity


Similar to osteoarthritis, there is no cure for subchondral sclerosis currently. However, following treatment methods may be helpful to relieve the pain:

  • Low-impact physical exercise
    Using a stationary bike, yoga, or swimming. For overweight patients, losing weight is also recommended.
  • Physical therapy: such as acupuncture.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: such as ibuprofen.

In general, treatments that can relieve osteoarthritis symptoms are also helpful to relieve subchondral sclerosis symptoms. For more severe cases, doctors may advice taking a surgery to remove the excess part.

Consult your doctors for your specific treatments.

Keywords: subchondral sclerosis; osteoarthritis.

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