Guide to Avascular Necrosis Treatment: Diagnosing & Treating

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Avascular necrosis treatment is crucial in keeping the damage related to this disease to a minimum. There are several diagnostic tests that can be done to properly diagnose this condition, as well as help determine the best treatment method for the patient.

Testing and Diagnosis

Dozens of medical conditions can cause joint pain, so when it occurs, specifically when it is moderate to severe, chronic, or getting worse over time, some testing is often warranted to identify the underlying cause. A traditional x-ray is the first test that is often done. However, if a patient is in the early stages of this condition, their x-rays will typically appear normal. However, an x-ray can often show the bone changes that are common in the later stages of this condition.

A bone scan is a diagnostic imaging test that uses a small amount of radioactive material to help pinpoint abnormal areas of bone. Once this material is injected into one of the patient’s vein, it travels to areas of the bones that are either healing or injured, and reveals bright areas on the imaging plate.

Magnetic resonance imaging can show bone changes in the earlier stages to help get an earlier diagnosis of this condition. This imaging technique uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to create detailed pictures of the body’s internal structures.

Treatments and Drugs

The primary focus of treatment is to prevent further bone loss. The treatment a patient is prescribed will depend on how much bone damage a patient has. Medications are a common form of treatment. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be beneficial in alleviating some of the inflammation and pain associated with this condition that the patient is experiencing. Ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin are commonly recommended.

Bisphosphonates may help to slow down how quickly this condition progresses. Fosamax is commonly prescribed when this type of medication is warranted.


In addition to medications, certain therapies have been shown to be beneficial to many patients. Rest is a very common recommendation. This will help to reduce how much stress and weight the patient is putting on any affected bones which could help in slowing down the damage of this condition. If the knee joint or hip joint are affected, the patient may be asked to use crutches to get around for several months to ensure they put little to no weight on these joints.

Exercises may help the patient either improve or maintain their range of motion in the affected joint. The exercises will vary. Patients asked to exercise will work with a physical therapist to help decide which exercises are the safest and most effective for them. A physical therapist will also show the patient how to perform the exercises properly.

Electrical stimulation may help to encourage the patient’s body to replace the damaged area by growing new bone. This avascular necrosis treatment can be administered using electrodes placed on specific areas of the skin, or directly to the area that is damaged during surgery.


MedlinePlus. (2009). Osteonecrosis. Retrieved on September 14, 2010 from MedlinePlus: (2010). Avascular Necrosis. Retrieved on September 14, 2010 from