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With avascular necrosis (AVN), bone tissue is torn with such consistency that the usual healing process is ineffective. This is what causes bone collapse and pain. If you have avascular necrosis and long-term disability (LTD) coverage, you may qualify for benefits depending on which bones are affected and how quickly and effectively the bone can rebuild.
Some other names for avascular necrosis are:
- Ischemic bone necrosis;
- AVN; and
- Aseptic necrosis.
Avascular necrosis occurs due to poor blood supply. When part of the bone does not get blood, it dies. Small cracks can appear in the bone without blood, eventually leading to a collapse. It can also damage the surface of a nearby joint. If the condition remains untreated, the joint will ultimately deteriorate and cause severe arthritis.
Although the disease is most commonly associated with people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, it can develop at any age, young or old. Also, though it can affect women, AVN occurs more frequently in men. Most individuals experience the condition in the hips and shoulders. However, it also affects other large joints, such as the knees, elbows, wrists, and ankles.
Causes of Avascular Necrosis
Avascular necrosis is caused by any condition that affects the blood supply to the bone, including disease or severe trauma, such as a break or dislocation. Bone trauma or fracturing causes blood vessels to break, which cuts off the blood supply to the bone. However, there does not need to be a traumatic injury to cause the condition. Often, no trauma or disease is present. If the cause is unknown, this is called “idiopathic avascular necrosis,” meaning it occurs without any known reason.
The following can also cause AVN:
- Long-term treatments with steroids;
- Excessive alcohol use;
- Sickle Cell Disease;
- Radiation therapy;
- Gaucher disease;
- Decompression sickness from a lot of deep-sea diving and
- Dislocation or fractures around a joint.
Other Conditions Related to AVN
Some other disorders or diseases that may be associated with the development of osteonecrosis include:
- Atherosclerosis; and
When osteonecrosis occurs in the shoulder joint, it is most often caused by either (1) long-term treatment with steroids or (2) a history of trauma to the shoulder.
Symptoms of Avascular Necrosis
Joint pain is the first sign of aseptic necrosis commonly experienced. It may only appear when putting pressure on the affected joint but can persist when it rests. How much pain you experience may depend on how much damage has been caused to the bone and surrounding joints and whether or not a collapse has occurred. As bone damage accelerates, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Pain in the joint that increases over time and will become severe if the bone collapses;
- Pain that occurs even when not in motion;
- Limited range of motion;
- Groin pain, if the hip joint is affected; and
- Limping if the condition occurs in or below the hips.
Diagnosing Avascular Necrosis
Your medical provider should conduct a physical exam to determine whether you have any diseases or conditions that may affect your bones. Be sure to advise your doctor about any medications or vitamin supplements you are taking, even over-the-counter medicine. After a physical examination, your medical provider may order one or more of the following tests:
- Bone scan; and
- CT scan
Treatment for AVN
If your medical provider identifies the reason for the osteonecrosis, your treatment may be targeted to the underlying condition. For example, if a blood clotting disorder is a reason, your treatment may involve clot-dissolving medicine. If the condition is caught in the early stages, you may take pain relievers and limit the use of the affected area. Nonsurgical treatment can often slow the condition’s progression, but most people eventually require surgery.
Surgical options include:
- A bone graft;
- A bone graft along with its blood supply (vascularized bone graft);
- Cutting the bone and changing its alignment to relieve stress on the bone or joint (osteotomy);
- Total joint replacement or
- Removing part of the inside of the bone (core decompression) relieves pressure and allows new blood vessels to form.
Advanced osteonecrosis can lead to osteoarthritis and permanent decreased mobility. Severe cases may even require total joint replacement.
Get Help with Your Disability Claim for Avascular Necrosis
If you suffer from avascular necrosis, you may be eligible for long-term disability benefits. Contact national disability attorney Nick Ortiz at the Ortiz Law Firm for a free case review. Contact us online or call (888) 321-8131 to discuss your rights today.