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Avascular Necrosis

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Avascular necrosis (AVN) is a bone disorder characterized by death of bone tissues resulting from temporary or permanent loss of blood supply to the bone. It is also connoted as aseptic necrosis, osteonecrosis, bone infarction, and ischemic necrosis. 


Symptoms of Avascular necrosis

Symptoms do not appear when the disease starts setting; it’s a progressive disorder so at one point you will experience pain in your joints especially in the hips, shoulders, knees, hands, feet and groin. It would be like spasms, most likely to reduce with rest. Also the pain might not arise normally but while placing some weight on the affected bone.

Movement of your hips, legs, and other affected zones of your body is restricted and people often are seen to be limping with advancement of necrosis in bone tissues.


Causes and risk factors of avascular necrosis

Avascular necrosis occurs more often in men between 40 and 50 years old. However, children might get one form of the disease which is known as Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (LCPD) which affects the femur and hips.  

The general reasons are:

  • Chronic use of corticoid drugs might cause a reaction that obstructs blood flow to bone tissues.
  • Excessively drinking alcohol, high cholesterol
  • Traumatic injury of the bone – like dislocated joints, hip fracture, etc.
  • People with medical conditions like sickle cell anaemia, diabetes, lupus, and HIV/AIDS
  • People undergoing cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy


Complications of Avascular necrosis

Bone deformity, joint collapse and extensive arthritis are some complications of avascular necrosis. If surface of a joint is involved, it may lead to rapidly progressive osteoarthritis.  


Diagnosis of Avascular necrosis

First your doctor will check your medical history and evaluate your general health and lifestyle. You need to present him the medicines you are taking. Following this, the painful zones and the vulnerable bones will be felt manually for tenderness and inflammation. 

You have to undergo X rays, bone scan and MRI test as to confirm the disease and estimate the severity of necrosis. MRI is important because it can detect the disease even if you do not have any symptoms.


Treatment of Avascular necrosis

Avascular necrosis is treatable. The treatment is directed towards controlling necrosis and helping the tissues to regenerate. 

The treatment differs from one person to another, depending on the severity of the disease, age, general health, activity, the risk factors and your medical history.

We have charted out some commonly used treatment choices here: 

  • NSAIDS are used to alleviate pain. Other choices are osteoporotic drugs, blood thinners, and anti- cholesterol pills.
  • Electrical stimulation on certain points is done to enhance growth of bone tissues.
  • Surgical options also exist which essentially are transplantation, decompression, replacement and reshaping of bones  

Taking care of Avascular necrosis at home

  • You have to be utmost careful with your movements. Walk carefully to avoid accidental fall.  Avoid lifting, holding and carrying anything that trigger pain
  • Your doctor would certainly advice rest for a certain period, which you must follow
  • You have to cut down alcohol and follow the diet plan if specified by your doctor
  • Some physiotherapy exercises might be shown; so you need to practise them to improve your movements.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: August 08, 2014