Osteonecrosis of the hip is a painful condition that occurs when the blood supply to the bone is disrupted. Because bone cells die without a blood supply, osteonecrosis can ultimately lead to destruction of the hip joint and arthritis.
Osteonecrosis is also called avascular necrosis or aseptic necrosis. Although it can occur in any bone, osteonecrosis most often affects the hip. More than 20,000 people each year enter hospitals for treatment of osteonecrosis of the hip. In many cases, both hips are affected by the disease.
What causes hip osteonecrosis?
No one know exactly what causes hip osteonecrosis. When hip osteonecrosis occurs, the bone collapses and the joint surface, the cartilage, looses its smooth shape. Because the cartilage looses the support of the bone underneath itself, the joint surface is quickly worn away, and arthritis quickly progresses.
Most cases of hip osteonecrosis are associated with either alcoholism or steroid use. Other risk factors for developing hip osteonecrosis include sickle cell disease, trauma to the hip (dislocation or fracture), lupus, and some genetic disorders.
What are the symptoms of hip osteonecrosis?
Hip osteonecrosis usually has few warning signs. Patients often complain of new onset hip pain and difficulty walking. Common symptoms of hip osteonecrosis include:
- Aching pain in the groin
- Pain with movement of the hip
- Difficulty walking or limp
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