02 May 2016

What to do when your bone dies: dealing with AVN

No one wants to hear from a doctor, “I’m sorry, but your bone is dead.” This may sound strange, but unfortunately for many, there really is such a condition as bone death known as Avascular Necrosis, or AVN for short. Also called osteonecrosis, AVN occurs when bone tissue dies due to a lack of blood supply. If the condition is not treated promptly, it can lead to tiny breaks of the bone that later can cause the bone to collapse. The onset of AVN can begin due to a bone fracture, a long term use of high dose steroid medications or heavy alcohol consumption. AVN can also be caused by a joint or bone trauma, fatty deposits in blood vessels, and diseases like Sickle Cell Anemia, Diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

Long-Term Effects

If left untreated, AVN can decrease quality of life. Weak bones can affect mobility, diminishing or halting movement like running, bending, walking or going up and down stairs. The joint range of motion (ROM) is also affected, altering the way joints can flex, extend or rotate. AVN patients experience pain, malformation of the bones and severe arthritis.

How can AVN be treated?

In the onset to the early stages of AVN, and after an official diagnosis of a health care provider, the condition can be treated through the use of anti-inflammatory drugs that do not contain steriods, osteoporosis drugs, cholesterol-lowering drugs, exercise, rest and electrical stimulation. However, if the surgical route is necessary, methods such as bone grafting, bone reshaping and joint replacement may be considered.

Can AVN be prevented?

Yes. The risk of developing Avascular Necrosis can be decreased through limiting alcohol drinking, monitoring steroid medication use and cholesterol levels. In addition, maintain a physically active lifestyle!