Your hips are largest and most powerful of muscle groups—the glutes, quads, and hamstrings—all connect at the hips, and they allow you to walk, run, climb. The hip joint is crucial to all movement, in sports and day-to-day life, which is why persistent hip pain can be such a pain in the ass literally and often debilitating.
Wear and tear on your hip joint can worsen with age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from hip pain, the third most common joint pain behind shoulder pain, at 9 percent, and knee pain, at 18 percent. There’s also a growing prevalence of young athletes with hip injuries, especially young women, due to repetitive overuse and acute trauma.
Trauma can sometimes lead to osteonecrosis in any joint but we are focusing on the hip , and some of the medications given to help inflammation and strengthen bones can also be a cause of osteonecrosis aka avascular necrosis.
Your Hip Pain May be the Sign of a Rare Condition
If you have hip pain don’t always brush it off as arthritis, if it persists, get it checked out to be safe
Persistent or worsening hip pain warrants a visit to your health care provider and possibly a sports medicine specialist or ortho. Some problems, particularly hip stress fractures, are commonly misdiagnosed due to the confusing presentation of symptoms.
A thorough evaluation is necessary and often includes X-rays and other studies, such as an MRI or bone scan. As with all injuries, the absence of pain does not mean that all is well. Strength and flexibility deficits must be addressed to allow a healthy return to helping your quality of life.
Although a person may not initially experience symptoms, hip pain is usually the first indicator. The earlier the diagnosis is achieved, the better the patient’s potential outcome. AVN has four stages that can progress over a period of several months to more than a year. In Stage I, the hip is healthy; in Stage II, the patient experiences mild to moderate pain in direct proportion to the deterioration of the head of the femur (or ball of the hip joint). By Stage III, usually the patient will find it difficult to stand and bear weight on the hip, and joint movement will be painful. During this stage, the ball of the hip has deteriorated to what is called a subchondral fracture and early collapse. Stage IV is a full collapse of the femoral head and degenerative joint disease (DJD).
Treatment for AVN is recommended based on the stage of the disease coupled with the age of the patient. In Stage I, medication and crutches may be prescribed to provide relief and enable the bone to heal on its own. This treatment may require the patient to be non-weight-bearing for up to six months. It also has a failure rate greater than 80-percent.
On the horizon treatments are stem cell.
Surgical treatment is recommended with a Stage II diagnosis, or very early in a Stage III diagnosis. A procedure, known as a core decompression, typically involves drilling one large hole in the core of the effected bone, with or without a bone graft, to reduced pressure and improve blood circulation in the hip. Another surgical option is the vascularized fibular graft, which takes a healthy piece of bone from the fibula, along with the artery or vein, and transplants and reattaches it into the hip, to help healthy bone grow. Recovery can take several months.
Because most patients are diagnosed in late Stage III or IV of the disease, when the bone quality of the femoral head is poor (subchondral fracture) or has collapsed, total hip replacement is the most successful treatment for AVN. This procedure replaces the damaged bone with artificial parts. Recovery takes about eight to twelve weeks. If left untreated, AVN progresses and results in pain and severe debilitating osteoarthritis.
Treatment decisions for AVN are ultimately up to the patient and are based on his or her lifestyle and goals. If you are suffering with hip pain, talk with your primary care doctor about a referral to an orthopedic surgeon