Osteonecrosis or avascular necrosis refers to a condition where the bone dies due to a lack of blood supply. As a result, the bone breaks and collapses.
Any bone can be affected by osteonecrosis, but long bones are more prone to be affected by it. Especially the upper part near the hip of the leg bone.
Avascular necrosis is also referred to as aseptic necrosis or ischemic bone necrosis.
This condition is commonly observed in the 30 - 50 age group.
Reduced or interrupted blood supply to the bone leads to osteonecrosis. The reasons for the interrupted blood supply could be:
Fatty deposits along the walls of the blood vessels: Blockage of the small blood vessel due to fatty deposits can lead to hindrance of nutrition reaching the bone
Trauma: Dislocation of the joint because of an injury can damage the blood vessels in the vicinity. Radiation therapy for cancer treatments can also be responsible for the injury of blood vessels in that location and can also weaken the bone.
Medical conditions: Gaucher's disease, HIV/ AIDS, diabetes, pancreatitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and sickle cell anemia too are responsible for reducing blood flow to the bone.
Steroids: High doses of corticosteroids lead to avascular necrosis.
Excessive consumption of alcohol leads to fatty deposits in the blood vessels and thus interrupted blood supply.
Bisphosphonate usage in high doses, especially to treat cancers like metastatic breast cancer and multiple myeloma.
In about 25 percent of the cases of avascular necrosis, the reason for interrupted or reduced blood flow does not get identified.
The early stages of avascular necrosis are not accompanied by symptoms. With the gradual progression of the condition, the affected individual may experience pain when he/ she puts weight on this bone.
Subsequently, there could be a pain even while lying down and without putting any weight.
The expected locations where the pain can be experienced and is indicative of avascular necrosis of the hip is the thigh, buttocks, or central region of the groin. Shoulder, hand, knee, and foot are also areas likely to be affected by avascular necrosis.
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