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These 5 Things Can Cause Your Hip Collapse

Painful joints are all too common in American adults. According to the CDC, a estimated 30% of adults experiencing joint pain. If you’re concerned about hip pain you’re experiencing, you may not know that common habits and conditions can cause your hip joint to not only hurt, but collapse, requiring total hip replacement to fix the problem.

Hips succumb when the blood supply that nourishes the hip tissues is damaged in some way — alcohol use, medications, trauma, and even certain health conditions. Read on to find out what could cause your hip joint to fail and what you can do now to reverse joint damage to prevent collapse, using stem cells-and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss this one Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.

Doctor holds implant of the hip joint.

First a little anatomy: The hip joint is a ball and socket joint made up of two bones. The femur, or femur, forms the ball and the pelvis forms the socket. Without proper blood flow to transport nutrients to the joint, the hip joint collapses. This condition is called osteonecrosis of the femoral head, in which the ball portion of the joint is hungry for blood and collapses. (Another common name for this condition is femoral head avascular necrosis.) Read on to find out what conditions or habits can cause your hip to collapse.

drinking alcohol

drinking alcohol

Excessive alcohol consumption is a common cause of femoral head collapse. Alcohol damages blood vessels and bone microarchitecture, which can eventually lead to damage to the hip joint. Patients can prevent further damage to their hips by limiting their alcohol consumption.

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Woman taking medication at home

Woman taking medication at home

High-dose steroids are a common drug used to control an inflammatory disease, such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, or autoimmune disease. Unfortunately, the steroid can lead to increased amounts of fat cells in the femoral head, which ultimately affects the blood supply. While some patients can manage their inflammatory diseases with other medications or lifestyle changes, many will need to continue their steroid medication to keep these processes at bay. Some of these patients may eventually require total hip replacement surgery.

Woman on a city street falling with a bicycle on the road and a man chasing.

Woman on a city street falling with a bicycle on the road and a man chasing.

High-impact trauma to the hip, such as a fracture or hip dislocation, can damage the blood vessels that supply the hip joint with nutrients. Sometimes the injury is so severe that the body’s natural healing mechanisms are not sufficient to repair the blood vessel damage, and these patients develop avascular necrosis of the femoral head. In these cases, where there was trauma to the hip, there is a high risk of the ball portion (femoral head) collapsing.

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Man taking blood sample with lancet pen indoors

Man taking blood sample with lancet pen indoors

People with diabetes have trouble with circulation because diabetes causes blood vessels to become brittle and easily damaged. In diabetes, the small blood vessels that supply nutrients to the hip joint cannot supply enough nutrients to the hip, and eventually the hip joint can collapse. Patients with diabetes can protect their hip joints by controlling their blood sugars and following a diabetic diet.

Young attractive concentrated female scientist in goggles, mask and gloves dropping a red liquid substance into the test tube with a pipette in the scientific chemical laboratory

Young attractive concentrated female scientist in goggles, mask and gloves dropping a red liquid substance into the test tube with a pipette in the scientific chemical laboratory

Many patients suffer from blood disorders that affect the fluidity of the blood (such as blood clots or sickle cell disease), which can lead to damage to the blood vessels that supply blood to the hip joint. When these blood vessels become clogged or clump together, the blood supply to the ball (the femoral head) is damaged, which can cause the ball to collapse. Patients with blood disorders may be able to avoid some of this damage by staying well hydrated.

In many of these cases, once the blood supply to the hip is damaged, the body is unable to restore the blood supply naturally. Without intervention, there is a high chance that the hip will collapse.

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Bone marrow transplant surgery

Bone marrow transplant surgery

Osteonecrosis of the femoral head is treated with stem cell treatments. In a new procedure performed in Yale School of Medicine academic medical practice, Yale Medicine, stem cells are taken from the patient’s pelvis (from the bone marrow) and placed in the hip joint. The stem cells help new blood vessels to grow in the hip joint to provide nutrition. This therapy can prevent the femoral head from collapsing.

The process of sampling the bone marrow, called harvesting, is performed through a small, minimally invasive procedure. The surgeon then processes the bone marrow to isolate the stem cells, which are special cells in a patient’s bone marrow that have the ability to grow blood vessels and repair the hip joint.

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Doctor points to an x-ray of a hip implant.

Doctor points to an x-ray of a hip implant.

Unfortunately, if the damage to the hip joint is taken care of too late, the hip may already have collapsed. In those cases, patients will require a total hip replacement. This procedure is when the damaged hip is replaced with metal, plastic, and ceramic materials.

Although patients can resume normal activities after a total hip replacement, the medical device has a limited lifespan of approximately 20 years and the patient may eventually require additional procedures. That’s why it’s very important to avoid hip problems — and catch them early. So if you are experiencing hip pain now, see your doctor and get it checked out. And to get through this pandemic as healthy as possible, don’t miss this one 35 places you are most likely to get COVID.

Daniel Wiznia, MD, is an orthopedic specialist at Yale Medicine and assistant professor of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at Yale School of Medicine. He focuses on developing new stem cell treatments for osteonecrosis of the femoral head. He is an innovator of robotic total hip replacement and total knee replacement.

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