Osteonecrosis is a type of disease that can lead to bone collapse caused by an inadequate supply of blood to the bone tissue. As a living tissue, bone requires a certain amount of blood in order to function properly. Without an adequate blood supply, a serious case of osteonecrosis can develop that leads to the death of bone tissue.
Osteonecrosis is often referred to as ischemic necrosis of bone, aseptic / avascular necrosis (AVN) or simply ON. It is an irreversible bone condition that can be excruciatingly painful and disfiguring. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons estimates that between 10,000 and 20,000 Americans are diagnosed with osteonecrosis each year, most of whom are in their mid- to late-thirties. Osteonecrosis typically affects either end of the epiphysis of the femur, the long bone that runs between the knee and hip joints. Osteonecrosis of the hip is diagnosed as the underlying cause in approximately 10 percent of all hip replacement surgeries in the United States.
In some cases, ostenecrosis can affect the jaw. Many of these cases have been linked to use of the biphosphonate drug Fosamax, resulting in legal claims, settlements and lawsuits leading to financial compensation (in the form of court awards) for victims.
Although osteonecrosis can be an extremely painful and debilitating disease, it is not considered to be fatal. In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of osteonecrosis sufferers living with the disease throughout the United States.
Causes of Osteonecrosis
The causes of osteonecrosis are divided into two categories: post-traumatic osteonecrosis and non-traumatic osteonecrosis.
Post-traumatic osteonecrosis refers to the onset of the bone condition after experiencing a significant trauma. A severely broken bone or dislocated joint is typically the underlying cause behind the development of osteonecrosis.
Non-traumatic osteonecrosis refers to the onset of the bone condition for reasons unrelated to a physical trauma. People may be more susceptible to development of the bone condition if they have a history of diseases or activities known to disrupt blood supply, such as alcoholism, smoking, blood clotting disorders, kidney disease, connective tissue disease, or lupus; or if they have undergone treatment with high levels of corticosteroids. Oftentimes the condition has unknown causes and is referred to as an idiopathic case of osteonecrosis.
More recently, a family of drugs called bisphosphonates has been linked with the development of non-traumatic osteonecrosis. As a result, many legal claims have been filed. To learn about Fosamax settlements and lawsuits aimed at obtaining compensation for your losses, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Osteonecrosis of the jaw & Fosamax
Fosamax is a type of oral bisphosphonate that is used for the treatment of a number of bone diseases, notably osteoporosis and osteitis deformans (Paget's disease of the bone). Recently, Fosamax has been linked with the development of non-traumatic osteonecrosis of the jaw, or "dead jaw," as it is commonly called. Whereas osteonecrosis typically affects the body's larger joints, such as the hips, shoulders, ankles and knees, osteonecrosis of the jaw affects the jawbone and the maxillofacial region surrounding it. Victims of Fosamax-related ONJ may be entitled to receive injury compensation to offset costs associated with treatment and management of the condition.
Early osteonecrosis symptoms are similar to those associated with arthritis. Osteonecrosis sufferers may experience pain and aching of the joints when performing normal activities. The discomfort is oftentimes sporadic and short-lived, preventing many osteonecrosis sufferers from consulting with a doctor in regards to the issue. As such, osteonecrosis often goes undiagnosed for a lengthy period of time until the occurrence of increasingly painful symptoms eventually elicits a sufferer's response.
Since the femoral head of the hip is the most common bone to be affected by osteonecrosis, symptoms often include limping and a great deal of pain in the groin.
The earlier an osteonecrosis diagnosis can be made, the better the chances are of limiting the severe and long-term effects of the painful bone condition. If a case of osteonecrosis goes untreated, it can eventually culminate in bone collapse. The best method for early osteonecrosis diagnosis is an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. An MRI can detect the onset of osteonecrosis before the condition has had ample time to cause significant damage to the affected bone(s). It is not until the bone condition has progressed to a serious stage that its effects can be viewed via x-ray, at which point it typically includes joint involvement.
If you or a loved one has developed osteonecrosis of the jaw as a result of taking the bisphosphonate drug Fosamax, you may be entitled to compensation. To learn more about your legal rights, as well as personal injury settlements and lawsuits aimed at obtaining compensation for your pain and suffering, contact a personal injury attorney today.