by Alfred M. Faulkner, DO, PC on January 29, 2022Many people struggle with hip pain, which can vary from a minor annoyance to a significant impact on your day-to-day life. While you may be tempted to ignore ongoing hip pain in favor of your busy schedule, that throbbing or sharp pain could be trying to warn you of a more significant issue. Hip pain is often the first symptom of osteonecrosis. The sooner osteonecrosis of the hip is diagnosed and treated, the more likely you will be able to preserve your hip and avoid a total hip replacement. What is Osteonecrosis of the Hip?Your hip joint works like a ball and socket for a wide range of motion. Part of your pelvis bone (acetabulum) forms the socket, and the upper portion of your thighbone (femur) makes up the ball, called the femoral head. These two bones are covered with a smooth, slippery substance (articular cartilage) for seamless motion. Osteonecrosis is when some of the bone tissue in the femoral head dies due to a disrupted blood supply that will eventually cause the bone to collapse. It is a slow disease that also damages the cartilage, causing disabling arthritis as it worsens. Hip pain is often the first symptom of osteonecrosis; it is important that you seek help for this pain so that you can receive an early diagnosis and intervention to prevent bone and cartilage collapse. The pain is often described as a dull ache or throbbing pain that may extend to the groin and buttocks. As osteonecrosis worsens, you will have trouble standing or putting weight on the affected side of your hip and will experience pain when moving the hip joint. Early Diagnosis and TreatmentIt is essential to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to discuss your hip pain. Dr. Faulkner will go over your symptoms and medical history and evaluate your hip and range of motion. He may order imaging tests such as an X-ray or MRI to confirm osteonecrosis. Treatment for osteonecrosis of the hip depends on the extent of damage to the bone. Symptoms may be relieved with anti-inflammatory medications and crutches, but orthopedic surgery is often required. The type of procedure depends on the stage of osteonecrosis. Core Decompression: This hip-preserving procedure creates one large or several small punctures in the femoral head using a surgical drill which relieves the pressure and provides a new outlet for the blood vessels to flourish. Core decompression may be combined with a bone and cartilage graft (osteochondral), which transplants healthy bone tissue from a donor, another area of your body or a synthetic material to the femoral head. Vascularized Fibula Graft: This is another procedure that can preserve your hip. A small segment of bone from your fibula (lower leg) is harvested along with its blood supply, including the artery and vein. It is transplanted to the femoral head through a hole in the “neck” of the thighbone. The vein and artery are then reattached, the goal being to heal the damage from osteonecrosis and rebuild the blood supply. Total Hip Replacement: A total hip replacement may be necessary if osteonecrosis is advanced and the femoral head is collapsed. Dr. Faulkner removes the damaged bone tissue and surrounding cartilage and replaces it with durable synthetic components (made with metal or plastic) to restore range of motion and reduce hip pain and stiffness. Discuss Your Hip Pain with Dr. Faulkner in DearbornDr. Faulkner is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who can evaluate your hip and determine the cause of your pain. Schedule your appointment with the Michigan Bone Doctor at our Dearborn or Jackson offices today.