Hip osteonecrosis

Hip osteonecrosis or avascular necrosis is a condition involving disruption of the blood supply to the bone of the hip joint. Take note that this condition develops once there is an interruption of blood supply to the head of the femur. The diminished blood supply to the bone cells can lead to a decrease in the delivery of oxygen and vital nutrients to the bone, thus the bone cells eventually die.

Once the bone cells are damaged, the overall strength of the bone is drastically reduced and the bone is more likely to collapse.

What are the causes of hip osteonecrosis?

No one knows the exact cause of hip osteonecrosis. Once this condition develops, the bone collapses while the joint surface eventually loses its support. Since the cartilage loses the support of the bone beneath it, the joint surface is rapidly worn out and arthritis quickly progresses.

Many cases of hip osteonecrosis are often linked with either steroid use or alcoholism. Other possible risk factors for the development of this condition include certain conditions such as lupus, sickle cell disease as well as trauma to the hip and genetic disorders.


The individual often complains of hip pain and difficulty walking.

What are the symptoms of hip osteonecrosis?

Hip osteonecrosis has a few warning signs. The individual often complains of hip pain and difficulty walking. The usual symptoms of hip osteonecrosis include the following:

  • Pain during hip movement
  • Aching groin pain
  • Difficulty walking or limping

The two tests that are useful in assessing and treating hip osteonecrosis include an X-ray and MRI. The result in an X-ray might be normal or reveal severe damage to the hip joint. Once the X-ray result is normal, an MRI is performed to check for the early signs of the condition.

If an individual experiences the common symptoms of hip osteonecrosis, it is best to consult a doctor for proper assessment of the condition as well as start the suitable form of treatment.

Management of hip osteonecrosis

The treatment of hip osteonecrosis is difficult since the issue tends to progress rapidly despite intervention. During the initial stage of the condition, crutches and anti-inflammatory medications are beneficial.

The surgical option used in the early stages of hip osteonecrosis includes bone grafting and hip decompression. The objective of surgery is to deliver normal flow of blood to the affected hip.

The commonly performed surgical procedure for hip osteonecrosis is total hip replacement. In case there is damage to the cartilage of the joint, hip replacement is considered the suitable treatment option. Even though hip replacement works well, the replacements will wear out over time. This usually presents a substantial issue among young patients who are diagnosed with hip osteonecrosis. Another treatment option for younger patients is the hip resurfacing surgery which is similar to a standard hip replacement but removes a limited amount of the normal bone.


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