Let's Talk Health

Avascular Necrosis

Most of us have heard of the side effects of steroids. Anabolic steroids (the kind that body builders use), build body mass. But catabolic steroids, like prednisone decrease body mass and bone density and drastically decrease inflammation.

The decreasing of inflammation is of great benefit in treating asthma and in many other medical diseases (like Crohn's disase or lupus)

But, it has the side effect at the same time deceasing bone density and because of that, steroids can be the cause of osteopenia, osteoporosis and avascular necrosis/osteonecrosis, bone death. Not fun or fair, but who ever said life was fair?

Avascular necrosis can be very painful and pain control of this disorder can be hard. Avascular Necrosis is hard to treat because the patient LOOKS NORMAL. It's hard to have, because you look normal, too;even well meaning friends don't always understand why you can't participate in life.

Bones sometimes "collapse" onto each other, requiring from milld intervention ("let's sit it out and see if things heal on their own") to surgery, possibly requiring bone grafts or joint replacement.

Bottom lining it, the effects of steroids vary from life-saving to the life-threatening. There's a place for steroids in medical treatment of illness, quite a place. But when will an alternative medication with fewer and less severe side effects be found? I'm not holding my breath, as avascular necrosis, or my preferred term, osteonecrosis doesn't have a famous name to it.


11 comments

fucsia profile image

fucsia 5 years ago

Knowing the side effects of a drug is very important to allow us to recognize the signs and symptoms of a disorder expected. In the case of steroids unfortunately many times you can not stop treatment, and side effects sooner or later arrive and are often very important, as you described.


Virginia Lea profile image

Virginia Lea 4 years ago from Ltitle Rock, Arkansas

I love reading medical stuff, it's so interesting.


teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago Author

I find medical stuff fascinating, too. Medications are sometimes necessary and the problem is that they can have untoward side effects. "So, STOP THE MED, RIGHT?" The thing is, though; certain conditions require that med in particular.

An example might be asthma. Many people with asthma are alive today because of prednisone; the choice was one between breathing and dealing with potential side effects of prednisone OR not breathing and dealing with the certain side effects of not=breathing.

Most people don't get the side effects, but there are enough that do, so that prednisone side effects are well-known and present with life=threatening complications sometimes.


Virginia Lea profile image

Virginia Lea 4 years ago from Ltitle Rock, Arkansas

Yeah I took an EMS course and studies my brains out so I know the basic stuff, but I love looking things up and learning new stuff. Like last night I Was all paranoid about my head so I looked up everything there is to know about concussion and cerebral hemorrhaging. One of the things I find most interesting in either cardiology or physiology. I can tell you the entire circulation of the heart. Well the basic stuff, I just learned and never forgot. I just love reading about that kind of stuff. It was my dream to be a paramedic, I have so much basic medical knowledge in my head but I have really bad anxieties so I couldn't pass the final test.


teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago Author

After working in physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy with a degree in General Science, I went into nursing. Many years ago, I wanted to enter medicine, be the new Dr. House, but I wasn't in loce with the idea of the long days and nights of on-call. As it was, I spent a fair amount of time on-call in nursing.

I don't know if my nursing and medical background is more a blessing or a curse, as I've got several chronic illnesses. I naturally have an inquisitive mind, and add to that my nursing knowledge and I drive myself, and my docs. crazy at times!


Virginia Lea profile image

Virginia Lea 4 years ago from Ltitle Rock, Arkansas

What kind of chronic illness if you don't mind me asking? Oh I always drive everyone around me crazy so I know what you mean about that. That is amazing you spent so much time doing all of that stuff, that's fascinating. If only I had to patience for that.


teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Started out w/ epilepsy, then Sjogren's Syndrome, now lupus and a bunch of complications from lupus, the most recent being this rare thing called Shrinking Lung Syndrome. No, I didn't make it up! It's real and I started some immunosuppressant therapy. My pulmonologist said to give it AT LEAST 3 months, more likely 6-12 months to work!! In the mean time, I huff and puff at the least thing and oxygen is no help.


Virginia Lea profile image

Virginia Lea 4 years ago from Ltitle Rock, Arkansas

I'm sorry your having to go through that. It sounds tough. I'll pray God gives you his strength to overcome it. Sounds like your a very strong woman though. I admire that and I only hope to be as strong as you one day.


teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago Author

Unfortunately, I don't think it can be overcome; in the sense that it can be beat, I can change how I perceive that my life should be. But no walks, no housework, no work, just sitting in a chair for the next 20 years. There has to be more, and damn it, I'll find it!


Virginia Lea profile image

Virginia Lea 4 years ago from Ltitle Rock, Arkansas

I like that attitude. Looking for the positive! Keep that up and you will certainly find it. I know of people who have lost limbs, sight, parts of there brain and yet they still found greatness in the world.


teamrn profile image

teamrn 4 years ago from Chicago Author

I did have a cardiologist tell me that I could exercise more if I wanted to. I used to do triathlons and love that 'buzz' and to experience the freeness of exercise, I'd do anything. But ANY time my heart gets pumping, I get short of breath and ANYTIME I put pressure on my joints, it is a pain from the bone disease.

His comeback is to say that he has paraplegia and people without limbs who exercise; I can get inventive and do the same.. Swimming, which was my event, would be the obvious choice, but that medication for the shortness of breath is a powerful immune suppressant and I've been advised by more than one doc, to stay clear of pools and crowds. I'm sure I'll think of something, like weight training, but I'm sure he's thinking more along the lines of tennis/running/and the like.

Thanks for your praise; I don't know that there's much choice, but to have a + attitude. A good friend told me years ago that it's alright to get on my 'pity pot' as long as I make a statue of limitations for staying on and then getting off!

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