Osteonecrosis is a condition in which a section of a bone loses its blood supply and subsequently dies if untreated. The knee is the second most common location for the occurrence of osteonecrosis in the human body, following the hip, typically at the medial femoral condyle bone, also known as the inner thighbone. If not treated early, osteonecrosis can result in osteoarthritis, causing permanent immobility.
There are multiple sources attributed to osteonecrosis of the knee, none of which are comprehensively understood. It has been hypothesized that additional trauma to a stress fracture may transform the bone’s blood supply and induce osteonecrosis. Spontaneous and secondary osteonecrosis of the knee are often idiopathic, meaning there are no known causes, but may potentially also occur as a result of osteoporosis, systematic lupus, sickle cell disease, gaucher disease, or alcohol abuse.
Physical therapy in combination with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for inflammation is used to strengthen the hamstring and quadriceps muscles and improve mobility.
When osteonecrosis of the knee is advanced and symptomatic, surgical treatment may be performed by Genesis Orthopedics & Sports Medicine. The anatomy and the severity of the osteonecrosis will determine the type of procedure that is chosen, but a graft or osteotomy may be recommended in certain cases.