Avascular necrosis (AVN), also called osteonecrosis, aseptic necrosis, or ischemic bone necrosis, occurs when the bone loses access to a fresh blood supply. Because living tissues like bones require blood, an interruption to the blood supply causes the bone to die. If not stopped, this process eventually causes the bone to collapse completely.  AVN can happen in the hip, knee, foot or any bone in the body.


In the early stages, AVN typically does not cause any symptoms; however, as the disease progresses it can cause pain. At first patients may experience pain only when they put pressure on the affected bone. Then, patients may progress to experiencing constant pain. If the disease progresses and the bone and surrounding joint collapse, patients may experience severe pain that interferes with their ability to use the joint. The time between the first symptoms and total bone collapse may range from several months to a year or more.

What is the treatment for avascular necrosis of the hip?

The ideal treatment of avascular necrosis of the hip would stop the progression of the disease as early as possible.  If a physician halts the disease’s progress early enough then patients may only need conservative treatments.  If conservative treatments fail to halt the disease, or halt the disease too late, then patients will need surgical intervention to restore blood flow or even replace the joint.

Conservative Treatment for Avascular Necrosis of the Hip

Patients may use NSAIDs for pain and swelling to make them more comfortable.  Patients can use rest to help slow the damage and irritation to the joint, or specific exercises to increase flexibility in the joint.  Electrical stimulation may also help to try and regrow healthy bone tissue.