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What Is Osteonecrosis?

Osteonecrosis is a condition in which bone dies due to a decrease or complete shutoff of the blood supply to that bone. Osteonecrosis can occur in any bone; however, it is most prevalent in the hip.

When osteonecrosis occurs in the hip, the blood supply to the femoral head of the hip is compromised, causing the femoral head to die and collapse. Over time, this collapse can develop into arthritis. Symptoms include hip pain, difficulty transitioning from sitting to a standing position, pain with weight-bearing, and increased pain with motion of the hip. Symptoms typically worsen over months to one year.

Common Causes

The cause of osteonecrosis is unknown.

Risk Factors

  • Injury or trauma to the area
  • Certain medical conditions
  • Alcoholism
  • Use of steroid medications


  • History and physical exam by a musculoskeletal expert
  • X-ray
  • MRI


Surgical options include core decompression and total hip replacement, followed by physical therapy for strengthening and range of motion.

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