Bone and joint disorders are the most common cause of chronic pain in patients who have sickle cell disease. The femoral head is the most common area of bone destruction in sickle cell patients, although other disease-related problems include avascular necrosis of the humeral head, changes in the thoracic and lumbar spine, infection with encapsulated organisms (Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus are the most common), bone marrow disturbances, and dental effects. Complications can occur at any location: epiphyseal, metaphyseal, or diaphyseal. The location and the extensiveness of the problems determine the pain and structural damage. The hip joint is particularly vulnerable in sickle cell disease. This article highlights aspects of sickle cell disease that affect healthy bone and joint function and discusses treatment options.

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