Avascular necrosis

Avascular necrosis is the death of bone tissue due to a lack of blood supply. Also called osteonecrosis, avascular necrosis can lead to tiny breaks in the bone and the bone's eventual collapse.

The blood flow to a section of bone can be interrupted if the bone is fractured or the joint becomes dislocated. Avascular necrosis of bone is also associated with long-term use of high-dose steroid medications and excessive alcohol intake.

The hip is the joint most commonly affected by avascular necrosis. While avascular necrosis of bone can happen to anyone, it usually occurs in men between the ages of 30 and 60.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Many people have no symptoms in the early stages of avascular necrosis of bone. As the disease worsens, your affected joint may hurt only when you put weight on it. Eventually, the joint may hurt even when you're lying down.

Pain can be mild or severe and usually develops gradually. Joints most likely to be affected are the hip, shoulder, knee, hand and foot. Pain associated with avascular necrosis of the hip may be focused in the groin, thigh or buttock. Some people experience avascular necrosis bilaterally — for example, in both hips or in both knees.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you experience persistent pain in any joint. Seek immediate medical attention if you believe you have a broken bone or a dislocated joint.

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