What is avascular necrosis?
Avascular necrosis is a condition in which the blood supply to the bone gets stopped completely or partially, due to which the tissues in the bone perish. This condition causes the bones to break gradually and they collapse as days pass by. This can even make the joint surface of the damaged bone collapse if the AVN has developed in the bone near the joint.
This condition mostly affects the hips and other areas such as the shoulder, knees, and ankles and the condition is often referred to as ischemic bone necrosis, aseptic necrosis and osteonecrosis.
What are the causes and risk factors of AVN?
Whilst the primary cause of Avascular necrosis is interrupted blood supply to the bones due to any injury, which results in eventual death of the bone tissues, there are other possible risks and causes that leads to the condition. They are:
- Alcohol consumption
- High dosage consumption of corticosteroids
- Congenital diseases like Legg-Calve Perthes disease.
Although the cause of interruptions in the blood supply to the bone is exactly not found, the condition has adversely affected the everyday activities of patients. It is not restricted to any individual, but can also affect any healthy person and the risk factor is high with the age group between 30 and 60. It is also found that men are more likely to get affected with AVN than women.
Other common causes of AVN are:
- Decompression sickness or Caisson disease – This is a severe condition mostly seen in divers, when the nitrogen gas bubbles are released into the bloodstream and affects the spinal cord and brain by damaging the nerves.
- HIV infection
- Gaucher’s disease – when fatty substances deposit on the liver, spleen and bone marrow, the bone activities weaken resulting in AVN eventually
- Sickle cell anemia
- High cholesterol and triglycerides
- Organ transplants
What are the symptoms of AVN?
Hip and knee bones are most commonly affected by AVN. Apart from the hip and knee bones, AVN also affects the bones in the below areas:
Though AVN does not cause any symptoms, as the blood cells die, the effect of the disease progresses and the following symptoms occur.
- Pain in the affected joint
- Groin pain that can spread to the knee
- Overweight on hip or knee can cause pain
- Pain that limits the movement
The intensity of pain increases due to the tiny breaks in the bone. This condition is called microfractures. This eventually causes the bone to collapse and the joint can break down developing arthritis. The time taken for the first symptom to appear and the time that makes an inability to move varies. It usually takes a few months or years. The development of AVN in the jaw is caused by exposed bone, pain or pus.
What are the home remedies for Avascular Necrosis?
Besides the medical interventions, home remedies for avascular necrosis are found to relieve the symptoms and prevent the condition from developing further. Some of them are:
Resting the afflicted bone or joint is critical. Running, football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and other high-impact sports or activities that generate stress on the joint should be avoided. Swimming or yoga, for example, are low-impact exercises that may be possible. Crutches, a walker, or a wheelchair can be used to minimize the amount of weight placed on the joint if necessary.
- Temperature therapy
Applying ice or heat to a joint that is in pain can help relieve the discomfort. Heat helps to enhance blood flow, range of motion, and relieve stiffness in sore joints. Ice numbs and decreases inflammation in sore joints.
- Physical activity
A physiotherapist can suggest exercises to be followed at home to keep or enhance the range of motion in a joint. These exercises can be used alone or combined with other traditional medical therapies.
- Risk factor reduction
Avascular necrosis is linked to a number of lifestyle parameters. Limiting alcohol consumption, lowering excessive cholesterol levels, and quitting smoking may help to prevent the disease from deteriorating or spreading to other parts of the body.
In combination with conventional medical treatments for avascular necrosis, home remedies for avascular necrosis can help control pain and prevent the condition from worsening.