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What is the typical treatment for avascular necrosis?

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Quick Answer

Avascular necrosis treatment options vary based on certain factors, but they often include the use of over-the-counter and prescription drugs as well as surgery, according to Mayo Clinic. Surgical options include bone grafts, bone reshaping, joint replacement and core decompression, which is a procedure that removes part of the bone's inner layer. Medical providers also use exercise, rest and electrical stimulation to treat avascular necrosis.

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Details that help medical providers develop treatment plans for avascular necrosis include disease progression, size, location, the patient's age and the condition's underlying cause, as the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Doctors use bone imaging techniques such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, bone scans and computerized tomography to diagnose avascular necrosis. They may also perform biopsies in which they remove and evaluate a sample of the affected bone tissue.

Avascular necrosis occurs when bone tissue dies as a result of a lack of blood reaching the affected area, as Mayo Clinic details. The condition leads to tiny bone breaks, which eventually cause the bone to collapse.

The symptoms of avascular necrosis often present themselves as the disease progresses, and many people do not experience any symptoms at first, as the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases notes. Initially, the pain starts when patients place weight on an impacted joint. As the condition progresses, the pain increases in strength and frequency of episodes until it negatively impacts range of motion. The length of time from the onset of symptoms to loss of joint function ranges from a few months to more than one year.

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