Living With Osteonecrosis
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Health and Wellness

Living With Osteonecrosis

What life is like with a dead bone

Living With Osteonecrosis

Osteonecrosis is a rare, incurable disease that stems from a lack of blood supply. Without a healthy flow of blood to an area, the body is unable to replace old tissue with new tissue. This leads to the decay and death of those bones. It is typically found in the hips of those ages 30 to 60, with the two most common causes being steroid usage and alcohol consumption. However, injuries can also cause this condition. In my case, a misdiagnosed injury led to osteonecrosis in my foot.

The hardest part about living with osteonecrosis is knowing the intense pain is incurable. The condition is a bit ironic. Since the bone is dead, it shouldn't hurt, right? Wrong. It is an incredibly painful disease. It aches. It burns. It throbs.

Unfortunately there are not many options for treatment. For me, even just walking on it is painful. This has caused a slew of other issues because of the development of an abnormal gait to try to lessen the pain. Over-the-counter pain killers tend to be ineffective for me. Some people treat this disease with steroid injections. The problem with this is that steroid usage is one of the leading causes. As a result, while steroid injections may make the pain more manageable in the short term, it may actually worsen the condition in the long run.

In some cases osteonecrosis is treated through surgery. This most often means hip replacement. However, with the disease affecting my foot, hip replacement wouldn't help. Instead, I had half of the bone in my foot removed. Part of me wishes they took the whole thing out, as the portion left is still incredibly painful. That isn't recommended though because apparently bones are somewhat necessary (who knew?).

Other treatments involve physical therapy and ice. While physical therapy improved the issue that resulted from my abnormal gait, it did not do much for the affected area. Ice has been the most effective treatment for me. It doesn't solve the problem, but it does numb up the area, relieving the pain for a short bit of time. I also use padding to alleviate the affected portion of my foot. This takes the pressure off of it while walking around, making it more bearable. As an incurable disease, that is all one can hope for - ways to cope and make living with it a tad more comfortable.

My advice to anyone with osteonecrosis: don't let it stop you. Does it hurt? Yes. I'd be lying if I say I haven't cried myself to sleep before from it hurting so much, but the good news is that it can't physically get any worse. The bone is dead. It will never get any worse than that. Osteonecrosis may take the life out of your bones, but don't let it take the life out of you. Don't let it take away the activities you love or keep you from new adventures.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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