Torn Meniscus Treatment Without SurgeryAvascular necrosis of the knee is a chronic condition. Recognising the symptoms means you can seek early treatment and a better outcome. Below, you’ll find some helpful information about the disease.

Bone is living tissue and needs a continuous blood supply. Without it, bone dies. Avascular necrosis (also known as osteonecrosis, aseptic necrosis, or ischemic bone necrosis) is a condition that occurs when there is an interruption in blood supply to the bone.

It is a serious condition as the dead areas of bone are weakened, can no longer function normally, and can collapse. Avascular necrosis ultimately leads to a destruction of the joint adjacent to the bone involved. The hip is the most common joint affected by avascular necrosis, followed by the knee, shoulder, ankle, elbow, and wrist. If not identified and treated early, it can develop into severe osteoarthritis.

Avascular knee necrosis occurs when the blood supply to a section of bone in the femur (thighbone) or tibia (shinbone) is disrupted. Avascular necrosis of the knee can affect anyone but is most common in people in their thirties, forties, and fifties.


Causes of Avascular Necrosis Knee

Avascular necrosis can occur as a result of the following:


A knee injury (such as a stress fracture or dislocation) can damage blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the affected bone. 


Corticosteroid medications

  • Research shows there is a connection between Avascular necrosis and long-term steroid It’s not exactly understood why this happens. It’s believed that these drugs may interfere with the body’s ability to break down fatty substances called lipids. These build up and clog the blood vessels, causing them to narrow and reduce the blood supply to the bone.
  • Steroid-induced avascular necrosis frequently affects multiple joints in the body.
  • If you’re taking these drugs for an existing condition, you can discuss any concerns with your doctor.


Underlying Health Problems

Avascular necrosis of the knee is associated with particular medical conditions, such as obesity, sickle cell anemia, and lupus.



Organ transplantation, especially kidney transplant, is associated with the condition.


Excessive alcohol use

Over time, consuming too much alcohol can cause fatty deposits to form in the blood vessels. It can also lead to elevated cortisol levels, resulting in a decreased blood supply to the bone.


Symptoms of Avascular Necrosis

Avascular necrosis of the knee develops in stages. The time between experiencing the first symptoms and collapse of the bone can range from several months to more than a year. It is important to get an early diagnosis. Studies show that early treatment is associated with better outcomes.

Symptoms include:


  • Pain is usually the first symptom.
  • It is usually felt on the inside of the knee but may be felt anywhere in the knee area.
  • It usually develops gradually and may be mild or severe.
  • Pain may occur suddenly and be triggered by a specific activity or minor injury.
  • The pain is worse at night.
  • As the condition gets worse, it becomes more difficult to stand and put weight on the affected knee. Moving the knee joint becomes painful. How restricted your movements become depends on what part of the bone is affected, how large an area is involved, and how effectively the bone can rebuild itself.
  • As the condition progresses, pain occurs even when resting.



  • Swelling, warmth, or redness occurs over the front and inside of the knee


Joint Tenderness

Limited range of motion in the joint


Diagnosing Avascular Necrosis

Your doctor will ask you about your general health, medical history, and the symptoms you are experiencing.

Your knee will be examined.

Bone imaging techniques are used to determine the amount of bone affected and how far the disease has progressed. These include x-ray, magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI (the most sensitive method for diagnosing the condition in the early stages), Computerized Tomography (CT scan), bone scan, biopsy.

Treatment depends on the extent and location of the damaged area, your age, and your level of activity.  Avascular necrosis knee has better outcomes when treated early so recognizing the symptoms and speaking to your doctor is important.