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Osteonecrosis of the Hip: Your Questions Answered

Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.

If you have been experiencing worsening hip pain, one condition your orthopedic doctor may check for is osteonecrosis of the hip. This condition, which can develop in anyone but is most common in men between the ages of 40 and 65, occurs when the femoral head (upper part of the thighbone) fails to get adequate blood supply. As a result, bone tissue in this region gradually dies and collapses, resulting in joint pain and arthritis of the hip.

Who’s at Risk for Osteonecrosis of the Hip?

It’s not always clear what causes osteonecrosis of the hip. However, these risk factors have been found to increase a patient’s overall risk for this condition:

    • Alcoholism
    • Injury to the hip (joint dislocation, fracture, etc.), which may disrupt blood flow to the area
    • Use of corticosteroid medicines (commonly used in treating conditions like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis)
    • Certain medical conditions, including “the bends,” Crohn’s disease, and systemic lupus erythematosus

What Are the Symptoms of Osteonecrosis?

Osteonecrosis sets in gradually. In the early stage, patients may notice some hip pain. Over time, this hip pain could become a consistent, dull ache, extending to the groin or buttocks. Chronic hip pain may eventually make it difficult to stand and walk.

How Is Osteonecrosis of the Hip Diagnosed?

If you have hip pain, see your Houston orthopedic doctor. Your physician will ask about your symptoms, as well as your medical history. A range of motion test may help determine the cause of hip pain, too. An imaging test, such as an X-ray or MRI may be ordered to get an internal view of the affected tissues.

How Is Osteonecrosis of the Hip Treated?

The good news is, there are treatment options for osteonecrosis of the hip. One option is total hip replacement. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “Total hip replacement is successful in relieving pain and restoring function in 90 to 95 percent of patients. It is considered one of the most successful operations in all of medicine.”

For more information about total hip replacement at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics, view this resource page, which discusses the benefits of total hip replacement and the technology I use in caring for patients with hip pain in the Houston area.

Schedule With a Houston Orthopedic Doctor

To learn more, schedule an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics. Call (713) 756-5546 or schedule online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.