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Avascular Necrosis / Osteonecrosis


This is a weakening and collapse of the bone in the head of your femur. That’s the ball that fits in the socket of your hip. As this bone gradually dies and breaks apart, you can develop painful arthritis in your hip.


Avascular Necrosis / Osteonecrosis of the Hip

Causes & Triggers

Avascular necrosis is caused by a problem with blood circulation. It happens when your bone doesn’t get the blood supply it needs. Bone is a living tissue that contains its own blood vessels. Blood allows the cells of your bones to grow and make repairs. If blood circulation is cut off, the bone cells die. Blood flow can be cut off to the head of your femur if you dislocate or break your hip. Blood flow is also affected by alcoholism, medications, and by certain medical conditions that involve your circulatory system.

  • Bone fracture
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Joint dislocation
  • Prolonged steroid use

Signs & Symptoms

At first, you may not have any symptoms. But eventually you may begin to feel pain in your hip or buttocks. You may notice it during physical activity. This pain gradually gets worse. Eventually it may hurt to stand or to put weight on your hip, or even when you lie down.

  • Difficulty standing or walking
  • Grating
  • Persistent pain

Tips & Treatment

In its early stages, medications, rest and physical therapy may help your symptoms and slow the progression. But as it gets worse, you may need a surgical procedure. Your healthcare provider can create a plan that’s right for you.

  • Symptoms may not be prevalent in the early stages.
  • Pain can be mild or severe, but usually develops gradually.
  • Pain is often focused in groin, thigh or buttock area.
  • Pain may start with any weight-bearing activity, worsening over time until even lying down is painful.
  • The condition usually has a unilateral component, meaning it develops on both sides at same time.
  • Affects any joint, especially hips and knees.
  • Treatment may range from pain management to surgical joint replacement.

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