Is Avascular Necrosis a Disability? Understanding the Facts

In some cases, Avascular Necrosis can be considered as a disability depending on its severity and the effect it has on an individual’s life. It is important to seek professional medical advice for a complete assessment of your case before applying for disability benefits.

What is Avascular Necrosis?

Avascular necrosis (also known as AVN or Osteonecrosis) is a medical condition that involves loss of blood circulation to a section of bone resulting in the death of bone tissue. Left untreated, it can disrupt joint function and may even lead to collapse of the affected bone. Symptoms of AVN can include discomfort, stiffness and/or pain along with limited joint movement due to swelling or tenderness. Depending on the severity, surgery may be needed for treatment.

It is a disabling form of arthritis when it progresses to stage III or IV causing symptoms such as numbness, tingling and loss of sensation. While AVN is not automatically considered a disability under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) guidelines, depending on the individual patient’s specific diagnosis and impairments related to avascular necrosis, it could qualify them for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Some medical professionals debate that AVN does not necessarily meet SSDI criteria or have enough evidence as an impairment for Social Security benefits eligibility; however others disagree.

The question whether avascular necrosis should be considered a disability or not will continue to be debated, but what ultimately matters are the restrictions that the disease creates on daily living activities which serve as the main criteria in determining disability qualifications. To better understand if AVN qualifies as a disability, it is important to consider what causes avascular necrosis.

  • Avascular necrosis is estimated to affect 2.5 out of every 100,000 people in the United States each year.
  • A systematic review published in 2017 concluded that early diagnosis and treatments for avascular necrosis can greatly improve the chances of preventing joint destruction and the need for surgery or joint replacement.
  • Studies suggest that individuals with avascular necrosis can have an increased risk of developing early onset osteoarthritis due to joint damage from the condition.

What Causes Avascular Necrosis?

Avascular necrosis (AVN) is a medical condition in which bone tissue dies due to a lack of blood supply. The exact cause of AVN is unknown, and can only be identified as the result of damage to the bone or joint. However, there are some known risk factors associated with the disease.

The most common risk factors for AVN include long-term steroid use, alcoholism, sickle-cell anemia, radiation therapy, and some autoimmune disorders. Other conditions that can increase one’s risk for developing avascular necrosis are hip surgery, high cholesterol levels, and certain heart medications. In addition, blood clots and injuries to bone structure can also trigger AVN.

However some believe that the underlying causes could be related more to lifestyle choices. Proponents of this argument suggest that smoking, overly strenuous activities such as excessive exercise and sports activity, poor nutrition, and lack of adequate rest can all contribute to causing AVN.

No matter what the cause of AVN may be, it’s important to understand that it is a serious medical condition with possibly long-term implications that could lead to disability or chronic pain. Therefore, it’s essential to seek medical advice if any symptoms develop where there may be concern for developing avascular necrosis. With this knowledge and early treatment intervention possible disability can potentially be avoided.

Next, let’s explore the signs and symptoms associated with AVN in order to help gain further understanding about this condition.

Symptoms of Avascular Necrosis

When it comes to understanding avascular necrosis, or AVN, the symptoms are vital to be aware of. Generally, the main symptom experienced by those with AVN is a dull and often painful ache in the affected joint that may come and go as time passes. This pain may increase with weight bearing or activity. As symptoms worsen, the pain can become more intense and constant which can lead to a loss of mobility. Other common symptoms include swelling, stiffness, and enlarged joints that give off an audible crunching sound when moved. Depending on the severity of AVN, there may be difficulty walking or standing since the bone’s structural integrity has weakened from lack of blood supply leading to fractures of varying degrees.

The debate over whether AVN is classed as a disability depends largely on how advanced the condition has become. For example, if someone is experiencing minor aches in their joint but these do not interfere with their daily activities, then they would not qualify for disability benefits. However if their AVN has progressed significantly and led to chronic pain, decreased mobility, and greater vulnerability to fracture then it could meet the criteria for a disability.

Now that we have discussed the symptoms associated with Avascular Necrosis, let’s turn our focus to the next step: How is Avascular Necrosis Diagnosed?

How is Avascular Necrosis Diagnosed?

Avascular Necrosis (AVN) is a disorder where the bones in the body become damaged due to a lack of blood supply. Proper diagnosis and treatment of AVN is essential for long-term success in treating this disorder. When it comes to diagnosing AVN, there are a variety of tests and procedures that your doctor may choose from in order to come to a final diagnosis.

The most common test for AVN is X-Rays, which provide an image of the affected bone in order to check for any signs of damage or deterioration. Depending on the case, an MRI may also be used in diagnosing AVN as it will provide more precise images of the affected bone and allow your doctor to assess its health more thoroughly. Additionally, Bone Scanning might be used if the X-rays don’t show any signs of damage, but other tests suggest the presence of AVN in order to confirm a diagnosis. Additionally, bone biopsy tests can be done if needed in order to further analyze the bone tissue and determine what sort of treatment may be necessary in order to preserve it.

On one hand, many experts favor proceeding with caution when it comes to diagnosing AVN because if done incorrectly, it could lead to improper diagnoses and treatment plans that could put patients at risk of further harm. On the other hand, they also emphasize the importance of ensuring that AVN is properly diagnosed so that accurate treatment can be administered as soon as possible before irreparable damage occurs. This highlights the importance for both precision and speed when diagnosing AVN — something which medical professionals strive for every day.

Now that we have discussed how avascular necrosis is diagnosed, we will discuss the available treatment options for avascular necrosis in the next section.

Treatment Options for Avascular Necrosis

Treating avascular necrosis is often complex because there is no single approach that will work for everyone. Depending on how early the condition is diagnosed and how severely the joint has been affected, a combination of treatments may be recommended to prevent progression of bone damage and possibly restore some range of motion in the affected joint or joints. These treatments may include rest or protection of the joint through immobilization with a brace, as well as medications to reduce inflammation and/or control pain. Activity modification is also important, such as avoiding high-impact activities or placing unnecessary stress on the joint.

Depending on severity, other more aggressive treatment options may be necessary including various surgical approaches such as core decompression with or without grafting, bone marrow stimulation, or joint replacement surgery. Core decompression involves drilling into the bone to reduce pressure and promote blood flow, which can help improve functionality and reduce pain. Bone marrow stimulation procedures involve inserting needles directly into the damaged area to create pathways for healing and stimulating blood vessel growth. The third option, joint replacement surgery, typically involves replacing the damaged portion of bones within the joint with metal prostheses. This procedure can provide significant pain relief but cannot typically reverse any damage that has already been done to the area; it mainly acts to reduce further injury and improve functioning of the joint.

As there are a variety of options available when treating avascular necrosis, it’s important to discuss all possibilities with your doctor in order to determine the most effective course of action for your specific situation. For example, if only one hip is affected and symptoms are mild you may decide to go with only medication and activity modification instead of surgery. However, if both hips are affected and have caused significant loss of mobility than surgery may be the best choice for long-term relief from pain and prevention of further damage.

This discussion brings us to an important consideration: How can we best prevent avascular necrosis in the first place? In the next section we will look at potential risk factors as well as ways that individuals can take an active role in preventing AVN or its progression.

How to Prevent Avascular Necrosis

The best way to prevent avascular necrosis is to practice healthy lifestyle choices. This includes avoiding long-term alcohol and drug use, consuming a balanced dietary pattern, and maintaining good levels of physical activity. Not smoking can also reduce the likelihood of developing vascular necrosis. Additionally, it’s important to control any comorbid conditions like diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol that are known risk factors for this condition. However, some incidents of avascular necrosis are unpreventable because they are caused by medical procedures that involve the insertion of instruments into bones or other medical issues like serious trauma.

Many believe that identifying certain genetic markers may help predict people who are more susceptible to this condition and lead to prevention measures targeted specifically at them. However, the data on this has been inconclusive so far and more extensive research would need to be done before determining whether this should be implemented as a viable preventative measure.

Finally, those who have had an incident of avascular necrosis can still take measures to minimize further damage. Wearing protective equipment and avoiding activities that put too much strain on joints is recommended. Physiotherapy can also strengthen muscles and ligaments around the joint which can provide support in case of further degeneration.

The next section will explore if avascular necrosis is considered a disability under current regulations and what kind of implications this decision could have for diagnosis and treatment of patients with this condition.

Is Avascular Necrosis a Disability?

Avascular necrosis (AVN), or osteonecrosis, is a condition that occurs when the blood supply to a bone is impaired or stopped completely. Without access to oxygen and nutrients, the bone tissue dies and unable to fully regenerate which can cause bone to weaken, collapse and break down over time. Over 100,000 Americans suffer from AVN, with incidence rates being higher in certain populations such as African-Americans, diabetics and people with chronic renal failure. The question remains whether AVN is seen as a disability or not.

Arguments have been raised both for and against AVN being considered a disability. Those in favor of recognizing AVN as a disability note that it can have serious physical consequences like joint destruction, decreased mobility, need for joint replacement surgeries and other impairments related to the condition. Additionally, since AVN primarily affects adults ages 40-60 who are actively working and raising families, it can interfere with one’s ability to work resulting in financial losses too. Furthermore, because AVN is an unpredictable disease with no definite cure yet, it can cause emotional stress on those affected.

On the other hand opponents of classifying avascular necrosis as a disability believe that not all patients with this condition experience severe physical impairment or financial loss due to their diagnosis. They also point out that some factors known to cause AVN such as excessive alcohol consumption may be viewed as preventable behaviors leading them to conclude that those affected should not be eligible for disability support services.

There is no consensus when it comes to determining if AVN is considered a disability or not due to the wide variety of factors involved and impact on its sufferers. In conclusion it is important to further explore the effects of avascular necrosis on individuals so that accurate measures can be taken when determining eligibility for disability assistance.

As we move into our conclusion about “Is Avascular Necrosis a Disability?”, let us take an in depth look at the research surrounding this topic in order to gain a better understanding of this complicated issue.


Avascular necrosis is a complex and debilitating condition that can have serious implications for the quality of life of those affected. While it falls under the umbrella of an “invisible disability,” and thus, potentially qualifies as an official disability, any determination regarding its status should be taken on a case-by-case basis considering the severity of the condition and individual symptoms.

The debate over whether or not avascular necrosis should qualify as a disability centers around the idea of subjectivity—specifically whether a disability should be based on objective measurements versus subjective experience. Organizations such as the Social Security Administration typically consider diagnostic criteria, medical evaluations, and the severity of symptoms in their determination of disability rights; however, this overlooks the personal impact of living with a disability and how certain conditions may impede normal activities. Avascular necrosis can, depending on individual cases, have a major disruptive effect on one’s life and the ability to find meaningful employment. Thus, while there may not be universal consensus, some argue that AVN should be granted disability status in order to provide support to those who need it most.

On the other hand, recognizing avascular necrosis as an official disability could potentially open up doors for abuse or exploitation of public benefits programs by those who are able to otherwise sustain themselves independently. Moreover, being designated disabled would set a precedent for future qualification—and could possibly pressure organizations to include additional conditions that might not pass such scrutiny presently. This could combine to create an unsustainable financial burden on the system or lead to lowered standards for traditional disabilities and reduce resources for those who need them most.

The opinion surrounding avascular necrosis and its place within the framework of accepted disabilities is divided—but ultimately comes down to which perspective experts choose when making their judgments. Ultimately, we can only hope that whatever decision is ultimately made will be in line with providing much needed assistance to those suffering from AVN as well as protecting against any abuses or misuses of public resources.

Answers to Common Questions with Explanations

What are the symptoms of avascular necrosis?

Avascular necrosis (AVN) is a condition that can cause pain and disability of the joints. It occurs when the blood supply to the bone is interrupted or reduced, causing damage to the bone tissue and leading to its death. The most common symptoms of AVN are pain and stiffness in the joint, swelling, decreased range of motion, loss of flexibility, and limping due to difficulty using the affected joint. In advanced stages, joint collapse can occur. Pain may start abruptly but can then become more chronic as the cartilage degenerates. Other related symptoms may include an inability to bear weight on an affected limb, weakness in muscles surrounding the joint, and secondary bursitis.

How is avascular necrosis diagnosed?

Avascular necrosis (AVN) is typically diagnosed through a combination of physical examination, imaging tests, and laboratory tests. Physical examination may reveal abnormalities in areas of the body where AVN is most common, such as the hips, shoulders, or wrists. Imaging tests such as x-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans can be used to detect bone death which can indicate AVN. Finally, lab tests such as bone marrow biopsies may be used to check for AVN by identifying reduced levels of oxygen delivery to the bones. By using a combination of these techniques and procedures, doctors can diagnose AVN quickly and accurately.


KEY QUESTIONS: Is Avascular Necrosis a Disability?

The answer to this question is yes. Avascular necrosis (AVN) is a disabling medical condition in which there is decreased blood circulation to the bone, leading to bone death and weakened bone structure. Patients with this condition may experience joint pain and swelling, decreased range of motion in the affected joints, joint deformity, and may eventually need joint replacement surgery. As AVN can cause considerable physical impairment and disability, it is recognized as a disability in many regions of the world including the United States by the Social Security Administration.

What treatments are available for avascular necrosis?

The treatments available for avascular necrosis depend on how advanced the condition is, and how long it has been present. Generally, the first line of treatment is to reduce pressure on the affected joint and manage the pain through physical therapy or medical therapies such as anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids, bisphosphonates, or even surgical options if necessary. If a patient’s condition is more severe, then more aggressive treatment options may be considered such as bone grafting, artificial joint replacement, core decompression, core decompression with bone grafting, vein transplantation into the affected area, and other procedures. The goal of any treatment approach is to reduce pain and restore function of the affected joint.

Is avascular necrosis considered a disability?

Yes, avascular necrosis is considered a disability. Avascular necrosis (also known as osteonecrosis) is a condition in which the bones can no longer receive enough blood supply to stay healthy, resulting in bone collapse and joint destruction. This can cause pain and discomfort, limited range of motion, reduced mobility, and lead to major joint deformity and disability. In some cases, it can affect both the upper and lower body joints, reducing quality of life and impacting an individual’s ability to work or complete basic tasks. Some individuals may be able to manage their symptoms with lifestyle adjustments, physical therapy and other non-invasive treatments. However, for those whose symptoms require surgical intervention, the disability and associated costs for surgery typically qualify them for Social Security Disability benefits.

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