Avascular necrosis (AVN), also known as osteonecrosis, is a condition that occurs when there is a loss of blood to the bone.
Because bone is a living tissue, the starvation of blood circulation causes the bone to die and unless treated can result in the bone collapsing. Whilst it is most common in the hip, it can impact the knee, ankle and/or shoulder areas.
The triggers of AVN vary and can be a result of a dislocation or injury to the thighbone or hip, however it has also been associated with patients with long-term substance abuse including drugs and alcohol. The link is not clearly understood, however it is attributed to the impact such substances can have on the blood vessels and the subsequent reduction in blood flow to the noted areas of the body.
Symptoms of avascular necrosis
Most common amongst those between the ages of 30 and 60 years, the consequences of avascular necrosis can be significant so a clinical diagnosis is recommended if symptoms are present.
In early stages, sufferers may be symptom-free, however ultimately the affected joint, whether it be the hip, knee or shoulder will start to hurt during weight bearing movement and eventually even when lying down. Referred pain can extend to the groin or buttock area.
From the first signs of symptoms presenting to the point where the bone has died can vary in time for each patient. Depending on the specific cause and underlying concerns, it could be several months or up to a year or more.
The key is to get a referral for a professional diagnosis and then commence the appropriate treatment as soon as possible.
Avascular necrosis treatments
Treatments are varied and can include physiotherapy, a range of medications, and if necessary, surgery.
Non surgical options
With a goal to stop the progression of bone damage and help rid you of debilitating pain, there are a few non-surgical options available which may be suitable.
Anti-inflammatory medications are often prescribed to relieve pain. If it is believed that a substance has been a key trigger you may be advised to make some life-changing adjustments with an aim to improve your overall health. Therapy or the use of crutches can also help with weight bearing activities and may be recommended.
Whilst non-surgical treatments can be highly beneficial, it is likely that some patients will require surgery. These options can include bone grafting or joint replacement surgery.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE?
Don’t put off a visit to the Adelaide Hip Centre.
Arrange a consultation if you are living with regular hip pain and common symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.
Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of avascular necrosis can delay the need for invasive joint replacement surgery. At the first sign of symptoms or if you have concerns about pain in any joint contact your doctor to request a referral to the Adelaide Hip Centre.
Contact us for any enquiries relating to avascular necrosis.