Accessibility Tools

What Is Avascular Necrosis?

Hip pain is common in adults, and the older you get, or the more you play sports, the more likely you are to experience it. Several conditions can lead to hip pain and discomfort, and avascular necrosis happens to be one of those conditions. 

So what is avascular necrosis, what causes it, and are there any treatment options for avascular necrosis of the hip? We’ll cover the answers to these questions and the recommended treatment for this condition below.

What Is Avascular Necrosis?

Also known as osteonecrosis and aseptic necrosis, avascular necrosis occurs due to poor blood supply, resulting in bone cell death. This disease is commonly found in the hips but can also affect other joints, such as the ankles, jaw, and knees. 

What Is Avascular Necrosis of the Hip?

Avascular necrosis of the hip occurs when there is poor blood supply to the femoral head, or the ball of the hip joint, leading to the collapse of the femur head and the hip as a whole. This disruption of blood leads to severe arthritis and presents itself as a pain around the hips. 

Symptoms for avascular necrosis of the hip include the following:

  • Mild or severe hip pain that develops gradually
  • Limited motion range due to joint pain
  • Pain around the thigh, groin, and buttocks
  • Arthritic pain that worsens as the condition does
  • Pain, even when you are lying down or resting

What Causes Avascular Necrosis?

  • There are several reasons a person may be diagnosed with avascular necrosis, ranging from physical injuries to lifestyle choices and more. Avascular necrosis can be due to the following: 
  • Bone or joint trauma: Blood vessels can be damaged by an injury, such as a fracture or hip dislocation, which reduces blood flow and leads to avascular necrosis. 
  • Fat buildup in blood cells: Blood flow can be reduced by the lipids, or fat, blocking blood vessels.
  • Medical conditions: Certain diseases can reduce blood flow and lead to avascular necrosis. A few of these medical conditions include sickle cell anemia, osteoporosis, diabetes, HIV, and lupus. 
  • Smoking: Smoking damages blood vessels and reduces blood flow by increasing plaque formation in blood vessels. 
  • Overconsumption of alcohol: Blood supply can be decreased by excessive alcohol use from fatty deposits forming in the blood vessels.
  • Steroid medications: Blood flow can also be reduced from prolonged corticosteroid use, which increases lipid levels in the blood.
  • Cancer treatments: Certain treatments, such as radiation therapy, can weaken a patient’s bones and damage blood vessels, which leads to a reduction in blood flow. 

What Is the Best Treatment for Avascular Necrosis?

Plenty of hip treatment options are available for those who suffer from avascular necrosis and wish to find relief. Treatment options for avascular necrosis of the hip include the following: 

1. Rest

This non-surgical option may seem like an obvious treatment, and that’s because it is. Before exhausting the rest of your treatment options, you should first give your body time to heal. Resting gives your body time to repair and recover, so you do not worsen your symptoms.

Taking advantage of assistive devices such as canes and crutches can further help your body heal by allowing you to take the weight and stress off your hips, so they heal faster. 

2. Nonsteroidal Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, piroxicam, and more, can help with pain relief while also reducing inflammation and swelling around the joint. Of course, you should always consult your doctor before starting any new medication.  

3. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy cannot directly cure osteonecrosis of the hip, but it can still benefit those who suffer from it. A physical therapist can create exercises tailored to an individual with avascular necrosis, helping to increase blood flow, relieve pain in the affected area, and increase motion range.

4. Surgical Procedures

For severe cases of avascular necrosis, plenty of surgical procedures are available as treatment. A few of these procedures include the following: 

  • Osteotomy: A hip osteotomy will reshape the cartilage and hip bone to reduce stress on the bone and make the hip stronger overall.


  • Bone graft: This procedure helps repair your damaged hip bone, with the recovery time spanning anywhere from two weeks to three months. A doctor performs a bone graft by placing a healthy piece of bone from a patient’s body where the damaged bone is. The cells from the healthy bone then attach themselves to the old bone, allowing the patient’s damaged bone to repair itself. 


  • Joint replacement: A hip joint replacement may be considered when there has been no success from other non-surgical options, such as NSAIDs or physical therapy, and a patient is still in great pain. This procedure is done by replacing the damaged hip joint with an artificial joint, and recovery can take two to four weeks. 


Treat Your Avascular Necrosis with Better Treatment

Do not let the pain from avascular necrosis keep you from doing the things you love. The American Hip Institute offers surgical techniques that are both innovative and cutting-edge. 

Reach out to us today and find out how you can benefit from our personalized treatment for avascular necrosis.

Contact us to schedule an appointment
with our specialists today.

Contact us

You may also like...

Contact us to schedule an appointment
with our specialists today.

Contact us