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Athletes with Avascular Necrosis: New Options with Stem Cells
By: Sports and Regenerative Medicine
Los Angeles, California
Dr. Dennis Lox has treated many patients with Avascular Necrosis (AVN) and stem cells. Dr. Lox an expert in Sports and Regenerative Medicine has utilized stem cell therapy in difficult situations for both athletes and non-athletes, diagnosed with Avascular Necrosis commonly abbreviated as AVN.
AVN occurs when the blood supply to a region of bone is disrupted, leading to bone cell death or necrosis. This is similar in mechanism to a heart attack only instead of heart muscle dying it is a region of bone. In athletes the most common cause is a the result of trauma. There are many other causes including an unknown or idiopathic origin, excessive use of cortisone medications, excessive alcohol usage, and certain disease states like Lupus. Dr. Lox has seen many of the rarer causative factors leading to Avascular Necrosis (AVN). There is also other names to describe this condition, which can be confusing as well. These include osteonecrosis, ischemic necrosis, aseptic necrosis and bone infarction.
The significant issue with AVN is when a region of bone dies or becomes necrotic it may collapse, leading to a rapid degeneration of the joint affected. This is the worst scenario for an athlete. AVN has derailed many professional athletes careers, the most famous being Bo Jackson. The most common joint affected is the hip, followed by the shoulder and knee. AVN can also occur in multiple joints.
Athletes are especially complicated because they wish to return to sport. Some sports are harsh on the afflicted AVN region. For example the hip, knee and ankle are problematic for all running or load bearing sports. Often orthopedic surgical options are limited to recommendations to wait and see what happens with no sports, micro-fracture (drilling wells into the bone), joint replacement or even fusion in some cases. New techniques not widely available include fibular vascular grafts. Both grafts and micro-fracture are associated with significant downtime.
Regenerative Medicine and stem cell therapy offer a new option for athletes without the pain and prolonged recovery of surgery. Athletes are looking for options to return to sport, faster recovery, and avoid surgical procedures that would prevent return to their chosen sport. Bo Jackson ultimately had hip replacement surgery. He played one more season of professional baseball, but did not return to professional football.
Not all cases are alike. Dr. Lox takes an individualized approach to each patient. Brett Favre was diagnosed with hip AVN, but continued to play a lengthy professional football career. Others were not as lucky. Dr. Lox has treated successfully many different types of athletes with AVN, and of numerous regions of the lower and upper extremity with stem cell therapy. Dr. Lox has successfully gotten athletes back to sport, avoid surgical recommendations that would have ended their chosen sports career, and even had them go onto get college scholarships.
Though Avascular Necrosis often seems overwhelming when it is first diagnosed, there are factors which are favorable for success with Regenerative Medicine and Stem cell therapy, early detection, and treatment are helpful. Younger athletes pose greater difficulty when considering surgical options such as joint replacement. This is also why athletes find options such as stem cell therapy more appealing. They say winning isn't everything, but to an athlete having the chance to return to their sport is very important.
If you're in pain or had an injury and are looking for an alternative to surgery, contact us immediately at one of our locations. Our Main Medical Center located in Tampa Bay, Florida (727) 462-5582 or at Beverly Hills, California (310) 975-7033.