What Is Bone Death…?

As India continues to fight the aftermath of the second wave of the deadly coronavirus, doctors have established a linkage between Covid 19 patients and Avascular Necrosis ( AVN) being referred to as bone death.

AVN is a painful condition affecting the hip joint and thigh bones of Covid-19 patients, adding to the long list of post-Covid complications among recovered patients.


The complication came to light when Dr Manish Khobragade, a recovered Covid-19 patient suddenly developed pain in the left hip joint. He initially thought that it was a simple joint pain, but since it did not subside even after a week he contacted an orthopaedic surgeon and was advised an X-Ray test. The X-Ray didn’t detect any glaring issues and was hence prescribed regular medications, pain killers and muscle relaxers. But even after a month and half the doctors felt no relief.

Khobragade said that it was at that point that he realised that the pain was different from the routine problem, and there was something wrong with the hip joint. He then got the MRI done post which he was diagnosed with bone death. However, by that time he couldn’t even stand for long hours. Even walking became a difficult task. He couldn’t squat at all.


AVN, known as Avascular Necrosis is a condition where the blood supply to the bone gets affected, killing it slowly. “That sector of the bone dies, just like it would in the heart or the brain,” the doctors said. Because it is bone and there is a lot of structure around the bone, it does not necessarily collapse right away, but it begins to pain.

Doctors said that it is not something that one needs to keep thinking about for every piece of pain in the bone is not AVN. The pain can sometimes be attributed to a sprain or injury as well. However, “we know that this can happen in the hip. When you get pain in the hip and if there is a restriction of movement, the person concerned should seek the advice of an orthopaedic surgeon.”

Patients who have been given steroids that have improved lung function,  may be prone to get AVN on the hip. “We recognised that since the patient has had Covid-19, he may have a chance of thrombosis of his blood vessels and more likely because he has been on steroids,” they added.


Doctors say that the best way is to get a clinical diagnosis and can be confirmed by an MRI. This is the most sensitive test available now. Just taking plain X-rays would not be sufficient to identify bone death. The doctors said that there is a possibility of treating the condition at an early stage.

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