Osteonecrosis is a bone condition many are unfamiliar with or do not fully understand because it is not a widely known condition. Anyone can be affected by the condition and it is most common in people between the ages of 30-50. It’s also known by two different names; osteonecrosis and avascular necrosis. Both have the same meaning, which is the death of bone tissue due to lack of blood supply.

Without healthy blood supply to the bone, the body suffers unfortunate consequences. Some people that struggle with osteonecrosis do not experience immediate symptoms at the onset, however, as the condition worsens pain begins to creep in when weight is put on a joint. Pain may also be felt in the joint at rest, which often leads to individuals seeking medical attention.

Most people who suffer from osteonecrosis need some level of treatment; options may include non-surgical, surgical or both. There are two general categories of osteonecrosis; traumatic and non-traumatic. Traumatic osteonecrosis is the most common and is frequently caused by a displaced fracture where a bone breaks into two or more parts and moves out of alignment. It happens often in older people due to unexpected falls or accidents and is mostly associated with the hip. Dislocation is another form of traumatic osteonecrosis, often in the hip, and occurs when the ends of the bones in joints become completely separated from each other. Both are very painful and damage blood vessels which feed joints in the body. When blood supply is cut-off, death of bone is imminent.

Non-traumatic osteonecrosis is more focused on blockage and is not the result of a direct trauma or injury. It is a result of a loss of blood supply to the bone and is often caused by medicines, medical procedures, medical conditions, alcohol use, injury or increased bone pressure. Medicines or medical treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, high-dose steroids, organ transplants can be a culprit as well as medical conditions involving cancer, lupus, HIV/AIDS, Gaucher’s/Diver’s disease, gout, sickle cell, vasculitis, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Alcohol is an antagonist as well. Overuse of alcohol causes build-up of fatty substances in blood vessels, which decreases blood supply to the bone. Whereas, broken or dislocated bone injuries may cause damage to surrounding blood vessels due to ripple effects of the injury.

There are mysteries associated with the root of osteonecrosis, but with a proper evaluation by an orthopedic specialist, most of those mysteries can be solved and treated effectively to reduce pain and improve mobility.

If you believe osteonecrosis is causing disruption in your daily life, please contact McBride to schedule an evaluation with an orthopedic specialist. Options are available to reduce suffering and enhance quality of life.

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