Avascular necrosis is a condition in which bone tissue becomes dead due to lack of blood, this condition results in bone damage and even bone destruction. Avascular necrosis is also known as osteonecrosis, aseptic necrosis, or ischemic bone necrosis.
Avascular necrosis is a condition of dead bone tissue caused by a lack of blood supply. In the early stages, avascular necrosis generally does not cause symptoms. Over time, pain when moving will occur due to the joint being affected. Then the joint will feel pain even though the patient is just lying down. The pain is sometimes mild and even severe. The pain will be felt in the joints that hold body weight, such as joints in the buttocks or thighs. Pain can also be experienced in the neck, shoulders, feet, and hands.
Symptoms that may not be seen in the early stages of the disease. But as time goes by and the process occurs, aches and pains will start to occur. At the onset of the disease, pain is only felt when putting weight on the affected bone. The pain will continue to occur constantly as the bones and surroundings fuse. It is at this time of continuous pain that you can no longer use your joints. For example, avascular necrosis occurs in your hip, making it impossible for you to walk. Complete bone destruction will occur after 1 month to 1 year since the first symptoms occur.
This disease can be caused by trauma, such as shifting of the joints which can destroy blood vessels. The accumulation of fat in the small blood vessels can also limit the intake of blood flow to the bones. Other causes can be other conditions such as sickle cell anemia (Gaucher’s disease) as well as some medications (radiation from cancer treatment) which can contribute to bone weakness and damage to blood vessels. If this condition is not treated promptly, avascular necrosis can not only destroy bone but can also lead to severe arthritis.
Someone who experiences this disease due to several risk factors that increase the occurrence of this disease. Some of these risk factors are:
- Cholesterol levels
- Drink alcohol
- Use of steroids
The diagnosis of avascular necrosis can be made by physical examination and several tests such as X-rays, MRI, CT scan, and bone x-ray. By doing these tests or examinations, you can detect whether you have this disease or not. After the diagnosis is done, treatment can be done even though it cannot restore the bone condition as before. However, treatment can be done to prevent further bone damage. This depends on the severity of your bones. Before you do treatment, your doctor will determine what treatment is right for you. Some of the treatment options include:
- Medications to relieve pain and slow down the process, for example reducing obstruction in blood vessels
- Physical therapy: treating joint flexibility
- Surgery: bone transplant, bone formation, joint replacement, and more.
Treatment that can be done alone at home is in the form of lifestyle changes. In addition, you can also reduce risk factors for developing this disease by controlling cholesterol levels. This method is done so that the presence of fat does not obstruct blood flow. You can also limit your alcohol consumption because someone who drinks large amounts of alcohol increases the risk of developing this disease. This is the same with the use of steroids which can be associated with bone damage due to high doses.