Osteonecrosis literally means "dead bone." Known also as avascular necrosis, this disorder attacks bones by decreasing their blood supply.

The process of osteonecrosis is best described as the slow death of a bone. As the bone is slowly starved of its blood supply, it develops tiny fractures. Portions of the bone eventually weaken and die, leading eventually to collapse. The body's long bones, such as the femur (leg bone), are most susceptible.

Osteonecrosis affects both men and women, usually between the ages of thirty and fifty. Individuals who have suffered an injury like a hip dislocation, or have heavily used alcohol or corticosteroids, are among those most at risk of developing the disorder.

Common Treatments:

There are several treatments available, but basically two approaches, depending on the age of the patient and the extent of the disease.

The more conservative approach usually involves some form of medication to lessen the presence of lipids - a fatty substance in the body - and to control pain and inflammation. A physician may also prescribe reducing the weight on the affected bone, some form of exercise to strengthen the affected area or electrical stimulation to encourage bone growth.

The more radical approach is surgical in nature. These options include decompressing the bone by removing some of its interior layers, grafting in living bone or performing a total joint replacement.
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