ALERT

Due to the overwhelming surge in COVID-19 cases and the strain it has placed on health care capacity in the communities we serve, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has activated crisis standards of care statewide. We are open and available to see patients, but you may experience delays at our ERs, hospitals, and clinics. We appreciate your patience. Access more info on COVID testing, vaccination, visitor policy, hospitalization data, and FAQs.

toggle mobile menu Menu
toggle search menu

Site Navigation

Supplemental

Menu

Avascular Necrosis (Osteonecrosis)

Avascular Necrosis (Osteonecrosis)

Conditions Basics

What is avascular necrosis (osteonecrosis)?

Avascular necrosis is bone death that occurs when the blood supply to the bones is decreased or stopped. Without an adequate blood supply, the bone breaks down and dies and collapses. If the bone affected is near a joint, the joint may also collapse. Although any bone can be affected, avascular necrosis most often affects ends of the long bones, such as the upper leg bone at the hip.

Avascular necrosis is also called osteonecrosis, aseptic necrosis, or ischemic bone necrosis.

What causes it?

An injury, such as a forceful impact in an auto accident, or a complication of a hip fracture or dislocation can lead to avascular necrosis. Diseases such as sickle cell disease, gout, and lupus also may lead to avascular necrosis.

Long-term use of corticosteroids or drinking a large amount of alcohol over a long time increases the risk of avascular necrosis.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include mild to moderate hip or groin pain, decreased hip movement, and a limp. Pain may be sudden and become worse with standing or walking. Rest usually relieves the pain. Avascular necrosis occurs most often in men between 40 and 50 years old.

Children with avascular necrosis may have spasms in the hip muscle, have a limp, or refuse to bear weight. Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is a type of avascular necrosis in children that causes hip symptoms.

How is avascular necrosis (osteonecrosis) treated?

Doctors usually start with treatments to limit further damage to the bone and joint and to help the bone to grow. Treatments may include medicines, exercises, and electrical stimulation as well as limiting weight-bearing on the joint. Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to reduce pain. Eventually, most people with avascular necrosis need surgery.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: July 1, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Kenneth J. Koval MD - Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic Trauma

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Healthwise is a URAC accredited health web site content provider. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.