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4 Things Runners Need To Know About Femoral Head Avascular Necrosis

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Running is a good way to stay in shape and enjoy the outdoors, but if you overdo it, you could be at risk of a wide variety of sports injuries. One of the worst injuries that you can develop as a runner is femoral head avascular necrosis. Here are four things you need to know about this injury.

What is it?

Femoral head avascular necrosis is an injury that results when the femoral head, the uppermost part of your thigh bone, doesn't receive enough blood flow and dies.

What causes femoral head avascular necrosis?

Femoral head avascular necrosis can occur following trauma to your femoral head or to the hip joint. The injury may damage the blood vessels in the area or the swelling associated with the injury may compress them and cut off your circulation. The lack of blood flow allows femoral head avascular necrosis to develop.

Participating in sports exposes your femoral head to high levels of force which may damage the bone or the joint over time. For example, if you stand on one leg, your femoral head needs to handle forces equal to about 2.5 times your body weight. While you're running, your femoral head needs to handle forces that are about five times your body weight.

What are the symptoms of this injury?

The scary thing about avascular necrosis is that most people feel completely fine in the early stages of the disease. As your condition progresses, your hip joint and surrounding tissues may start to hurt, but only when you put weight on it. If you don't seek treatment, and the condition continues to get worse, your hip joint will eventually hurt all the time, even when you're lying down. This condition may only affect one of your hips, but some people develop it on both sides.

Can it be treated?

Nonoperative treatments, like using crutches to keep your weight off the affected hip, can control your symptoms, but they won't cure the condition. Physical therapy can also be used to keep your symptoms under control, but it also is not a cure. Injections of cortisone can provide short-term relief for your pain, but just like other nonoperative treatments, they will not cure you.

To cure the condition, you will need to have surgery. During this procedure, an orthopedic surgeon will remove the dead portions of your femoral head and then replace the tissue with bone grafts. If this surgery doesn't work, the other option is a hip replacement.

If your hip is sore, don't try to run through the pain. You may have femoral head avascular necrosis and should seek medical treatment from a clinic such a Burlington County Orthopaedic Specialist PA.