In simple terms, avascular necrosis of the femoral head means bone death of the femoral head. It happens due to abnormal blood supply. Sometimes, it may lead to a collapse of the femoral head.
Bone needs proper blood supply to function. If there is damage or rupture in the blood supply to a bone, it depends on accessory blood supply for survival. But the femur's head, talus, and scaphoid have a unidirectional blood supply, which means they cannot depend on accessory blood.
Avascular necrosis affects people who are between 30 to 50 years old. Many times, it is associated with high alcohol and steroid usage.
Avascular necrosis does not show any symptoms in the early stages. However, as the disease progresses, you feel joint pain. The pain increases sharply when you put weight on the affected joint. Gradually, your condition worsens, and you may feel pain while lying.
You may feel mild to moderate pain that may get more intense gradually. For example, one may feel pain in the groin, thigh or buttock. Other body parts that may get affected by the pain include the shoulder, knee, hand and foot. Some people develop this disorder on both sides that include both knees or both hips.
If you have persistent joint pain, you must seek immediate medical attention. Moreover, if you feel you have a dislocated joint or a broken bone, you may contact your doctor at the earliest.
The hip joint is a ball and socket joint that does not have an accessory blood supply. The surface is lined with thick articular cartilage and synovial membrane. The absence of proper blood supply leads to the death of femoral tissues. It hinders the bone formation process, and gradually the bone collapses.
Avascular necrosis affects the weight-bearing capacity of the femoral head. In addition, it impacts its structure and flattens the bone causing abnormal hip movements.
The leading causes of avascular necrosis include:
Fractures around the hip joints can lead to the interrupted blood supply. If you have experienced an accident or trauma that has impacted your hip joint, you may develop avascular necrosis. Trauma may lead to:
- Fracture of femoral neck and head
- Hip dislocations
- Fractures of acetabulum
AVN (Avascular Necrosis) takes time to develop and may take months to impact your femoral head.
Steroids are used to treat and control diseases like asthma, skin disease, and inflammatory arthritis. In addition, steroids reduce the risk of rejection in organ transplants. However, as a side effect, some oral steroids may lead to AVN.
Diseases of blood coagulation, sickle cell disease, Leukemia, and Gaucher's disease may lead to avascular necrosis of the femoral head.
Alcohol and smoking can lead to AVN. Several studies have shown that their overuse can rupture the femoral head. In addition, it can rupture your blood vessels leading to improper blood supply in the femur and thighs.
People of some professions are more prone to AVN. For example, if you are a deep-sea diver and miner, you will likely develop AVN. The high atmospheric pressure forms tiny bubbles in the blood vessels leading to AVN.
These are the prime causes that develop avascular necrosis of the femoral head.
It is essential to diagnose the disease at the early stages of its development as the treatment's effectiveness depends on early diagnosis. There are different ways to diagnose avascular necrosis. These are:
- Medical history and physical examination
Avascular necrosis patients primarily complain of pain in the groin area. However, the pain may extend to the knees and buttocks. Moreover, they may feel a painful range of motions while moving their lower body. Therefore, it is recommended to track the risk factors before starting the physical examination. For example, if a patient has an adverse radiographic finding along with a painful hip, they may have avascular necrosis. For better diagnosis, the doctor may evaluate the other hip. A hip examination is crucial to diagnose hip stiffness and range of movements.
X-rays do not show any significant reports in the initial days of the disease. It gives a proper diagnosis after a few months of getting avascular necrosis. Even if a patient complains of hip pain, an X-ray report may show a negative result in the earlier days of the disease.
MRI uses radio waves for better diagnosis. It shows the changes in the femoral head that is not visible in the X-ray reports. In addition, it detects abnormalities in the blood supply. It also detects AVN changes in the opposite hip even if it does not show any symptoms. AVN of the femoral head can be mild or severe depending on the location of the damaged areas.
In a bone scan, a radioactive chemical is injected into your bloodstream. After that, a doctor takes a picture of your skeleton by using a special camera. If your femoral head lacks blood supply, the picture marks it with a blank spot. A bone scan is an obsolete method to diagnose avascular necrosis. The MRI has replaced this diagnosis method.
Avascular necrosis can lead to an arthritic hip. However, the disease can be delayed by using prescribed medications and salvage procedures. Your age, activity levels, and general health also determine the treatment procedure.
If avascular necrosis is left untreated, it may lead to a bone collapse. Moreover, it may lead to arthritis because it hampers the bone shape. The bone loses its smooth surface and becomes porous.
Homeopathy restores the blood supply and heals the femoral tissue. It uses the restorative process of your body to treat diseases. Moreover, it controls bone pain that is caused by bone damage. Homeopathy is entirely safe to use with negligible side effects.
A homeopath studies your medical history before preparing your treatment plan. Then, they prepare individualised treatment plans according to your bone pain, bone involvement, and other symptoms.
Apart from taking homeopathy medicines, you may consider the following points to improve avascular necrosis and general health.
- If you are an alcoholic, or a regular and heavy drinker, you are at a high risk of developing avascular necrosis. It is recommended that you limit the alcohol consumption to contain the development of avascular necrosis.
- Try to maintain your cholesterol levels and keep bad cholesterol at arm's length. Fats are one of the primary reasons that block the blood supply to the bones.
- Do not take steroids extensively. High steroids dosage can damage the bones. As a result, you may get joint pain.
- Smoking increases the risk of avascular necrosis. It is recommended to quit smoking to prevent your bones from deteriorating.
You can control avascular necrosis by ensuring blood supply to the bones. With unrestricted blood flow to the bones, you can live a healthy life.