Avascular necrosis, also known as osteonecrosis, occurs when bone tissue dies due to a lack of blood supply. This condition can start off slow but as it progresses it causes more damage to the bone tissue and more pain.
Avascular necrosis affects joints such as the knees, shoulders, and ankles, but it most commonly affects the hips.
In the beginning stages of avascular necrosis, it is likely that you will experience no symptoms at all. As time goes on and the bone tissue experiences more damage, symptoms may include:
The cause of avascular necrosis is not always known, but it is often caused by bone fractures that prevent blood flow to the bone.
Conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, lupus, and HIV can all increase your risk of developing avascular necrosis.
If you are experiencing symptoms of avascular necrosis, seek help from an orthopedic doctor near you. Your doctor will ask you about your medical history, symptoms, and perform a physical exam. If they suspect that you have avascular necrosis, they may use imaging such as an x-ray or MRI to confirm diagnosis.
There is no cure for avascular necrosis, but treatment can help to slow the development of the disease. Most people with avascular necrosis will eventually need surgery.
In the beginning stages of avascular necrosis, orthopedists can recommend conservative treatment:
When avascular necrosis becomes more advanced, surgery may be necessary. Surgical procedures that may be performed to relieve avascular necrosis pain include:
If you think you may have avascular necrosis, it is important to seek help from an orthopedic surgeon or a medical professional. Treating avascular necrosis early can help slow the progress of the disease and allow you to live a more pain-free lifestyle.
At Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics, our surgeons each specialize in a specific part of the musculoskeletal system. Depending on the location of your avascular necrosis you may need to see a hip specialist, knee specialist, shoulder specialist, or foot and ankle specialist.
To schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic providers, call us at 615-324-1600 or request and appointment online.