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What is Avascular Necrosis of the hip?

Avascular Necrosis of the hip is also referred to as Osteonecrosis and Aseptic Necrosis. Our bodies need a steady supply of blood to nourish us. The blood has many nutrients that are essential to our everyday living. Along with the soft tissues in our body, our bones benefit from this precious resource as well. Blood helps the bones grow and retain their strength. If our bodies are deprived of a certain vitamin or mineral, the internal systems begin to fail. Simply put, either the femur or pelvic bone do not receive enough blood flow so the joint weakens and even dies. Avascular Necrosis may occur in any bone of the body, but it most commonly found in the hip bones.

What causes Avascular Necrosis?

Avascular Necrosis results from a lack of blood supply to the hip. Anything that disrupts the vasculature in the area of the hip can affect the blood flow that nourishes the hip joint. With hip AVN, at times it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what disrupts the blood supply if it was not a traumatic event that clearly caused injury to blood vessels. Causes of hip AVN include the following:

  • Trauma from a previous hip fracture or other direct injuries to the hip
  • Lupus or other diseases of the immune system
  • Long-term use of steroid medications like prednisone
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Inherited, genetic diseases that can affect blood flow. Examples of these are sickle cell anemia and Gaucher’s Disease (a condition in which fatty tissue builds up in the organs or bones)
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Avascular Necrosis Hip Symptoms

An orthopedic physician is necessary in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis of AVN of the hip. When the disease begins and the blood flow is first disrupted, AVN patients may not experience symptoms which leads to delayed treatment. Initial symptoms might feel similar to pains that a patient with arthritis would experience. As time progresses, the symptoms become more severe. You will experience chronic pain in your hip joint along with some or all of these symptoms:

  • Groin pain
  • Stiffness in the hip joint
  • Tenderness when putting any pressure on the hip
  • Developing a physical disability, like limping
  • Unilateral or bilateral hip pain is possible
  • Eventually as the disease progresses, pain may be felt even at rest

If You Are Experiencing Symptoms, Schedule an Appointment Dr. Burke Orthopedics Immediately.

Avascular Necrosis of Hip Treatment

Taking caution and caring for your overall health is the first step in preventing and treating avascular necrosis. For the hip or other joints, AVN can progress to bone death in less than a year. Symptoms may not appear until the disease has been progressing for months. But if caught early enough, conservative treatment may help to prevent the condition from worsening. Treating Avascular Necrosis involves stopping any further bone damage and improving the health of the joint. Some tips are:

  • Treat bone fractures immediately
  • Strengthen the hip bones and muscles with regular exercise
  • Understand the side effects that accompany any medications you take

In advanced cases, surgical intervention may be necessary involving bine graft, and osteotomy, or a hip replacement.

Hip painful skeleton x-ray, 3D illustration.

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Disclaimer: Please note all medical information contained within this website should never be interpreted as a diagnosis or recommendation of treatment. If a diagnosis is needed, contact Dr. Burke Orthopedics for a personalized consultation. Information shared in testimonials and reviews are specific to that particular patient and may not be representative of the experience of others.