How is Avascular Necrosis Different from Ankylosing Spondylitis?


Hip bones and joints are the most important parts of the human body. From the most common type of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis to the rare diseases like avascular necrosis, ankylosing spondylitis, etc. – most of the diseases affect the bones, joints, muscles, and spinal cord. These diseases cause hip pain, stiffness, and swelling.

How is Avascular Necrosis Different from Ankylosing Spondylitis

Avascular necrosis (AVN) is also known as osteonecrosis, which is the death and collapse of a bone due to lack of blood supply to that region. Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that affects the spine that leads to inflammation and stiffening of the spinal cord.

Avascular Necrosis

Here are a few important facts about AVN:

  • Research concludes that 20,000 people between the ages 20 to 50 develop AVN.
  • It starts as tiny breaks in the bone but can later collapse completely.
  • The other names of this medical condition are aseptic necrosis or ischemic bone necrosis.
  • Apart from hip bones, avascular necrosis can affect shoulders, knees, and ankles.
  • AVN appears mostly along with another disease condition like rheumatoid arthritis or alcoholism.
  • The common causes of avascular necrosis are fat deposits in blood alcohol consumption, bisphosphonates consumption while treatment of metastatic breast cancer, steroid consumption, accident or trauma that cuts the blood supply to the hip, blood clots, and inflammation in the blood vessel that can block the blood flow to the bones.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Here are a few facts about ankylosing spondylitis:

  • Spondylitis Association of America states that this is a form of arthritis that affects the spine and can also cause inflammation of other spinal joints.
  • Ankylosis means a new bone formation in the spine that causes the spine to get fused and make it immobile. This is the advanced stage of spondylitis.
  • The disease progression is identified by the involvement of the sacroiliac joints, inflammation of the entheses or the tendons attached to the bone, chest pain heel pain, and sometimes irritation of the eye are generally associated with signature symptoms of ankylosis.
  • When tissues get scarred, its remnants can cause an extra bone formation. This can increase the possibility of spinal fracture
  • It can also result in forward curvature of the spine medically known as kyphosis.
  • Some people experience inflammation of the jaw.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Common symptoms of AVN include

  • Pain
  • Motion stiffness
  • Muscle spasm
  • limping

AVN can be diagnosed by physical examination. A bone scan, MRI, X-ray, and CT scan too can reveal the state of bone and the changes it has gone through due to lack of blood supply.

Common symptoms of AS includes

  • joint stiffness
  • inflammation
  • uveitis

AS can be diagnosed with X-Ray, MRI imagery, blood tests, and CT scans.

Treatment of AVN and AK includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, heating pads, and electric blankets, etc. to relieve pain. When one experiences sudden flaring pain, elevating legs while sitting can provide relief to a great extent. Reducing weight-bearing activities also relieves pain during the initial stages. However, if the bone is severely damaged then artificial joint replacement surgery (arthroplasty) is performed in both diseased conditions. It has been observed that surgery has given some relief to the patients.


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