Osteonecrosis, also known as avascular necrosis, aseptic necrosis, and ischemic bone necrosis, refers to the death of bone tissue caused by the temporary or permanent loss of blood supply to the bone. Without blood, the bone tissue dies, and may eventually cause the bone to collapse.

The condition may be caused by traumatic injury, fracture, or damage to blood vessels, as well as by certain medical conditions, long-term use of corticosteroids and other medications, or excessive alcohol intake. Some individuals are affected for no known reason.

Osteonecrosis can occur in any bone, but most commonly affects the ends of the femur (thigh bone). Other sites include the upper arm bone, knees, shoulders, and ankles. It can affect a single bone, several bones at once, or different bones at different times. It can occur in individuals of any age, from children to the elderly, but is more common between the ages of 30 and 50.

There may be no symptoms during the early stages of osteonecrosis. As the disease progresses, however, most people experience mild to severe pain when putting weight on the affected joint.Later, the pain may occur even when resting. The symptoms of osteonecrosis may resemble other medical conditions or bone problems.

The orthopedic specialists at Lancaster Orthopedic Group are experienced in identifying and diagnosing osteonecrosis as early as possible to stop further damage to the affected bone or joint and improve the chances of successful treatment. In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, other tools may include X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and bone scans.

Treatments for osteonecrosis include pain medications, physical therapy, core decompression surgery to reduce pressure and increase blood flow to the joint (including cell and bone grafting), and arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery), if other treatment options fail to provide adequate relief.