Osteonecrosis of the Jaw
A rare but extremely serious Fosamax side effect is the development of a bone disease called osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), or known in regular language as "dead jaw."
Temporary or permanent loss of blood to bone tissue occurs as ONJ develops, potentially leading to tissue death and bone collapse. About 10,000 to 20,000 new cases of osteonecrosis are diagnosed each year in the United States. Many of these cases occur as a result of some type of bone injury (i.e. fracture or dislocation). Some patients have suffered a bone injury during a car accident. If the accident was caused by DUI, you may need to contact a lawyer to learn more about DUI penalties.
ONJ been caused as a result of using bisphosphonate drugs like Fosamax (alendronate). Fosamax users risk developing a serious case of osteonecrosis of the jaw and living in constant pain.
Osteonecrosis of the Jaw Symptoms
Osteonecrosis of the jaw shows itself through a variety of symptoms. However, ONJ can be asymptomatic throughout the early stages of development, with symptoms lying dormant for months.
Dental work (i.e. tooth extraction) that bares jawbone can accelerate the presentation of symptoms. Common symptoms of osteonecrosis include:
- Loose teeth
- Exposed bone
- Jaw / gum pain
- Jaw / gum swelling
- Jaw / gum infection
- Jaw numbness; loss of sensation
- Dramatic gum loss
People who use bisphosphonates (Fosamax, Actonel, Zometa, etc.) and experience any of the ONJ symptoms listed above should see their doctor immediately. Osteonecrosis of the jaw can lead to bone tissue loss and irreversible joint collapse in the jaw.
Osteonecrosis of the Jaw and Bisphosphonates
Some bisphosphonate drugs have been linked with the development of osteonecrosis of the jaw, though an exact connection with the disease has not been definitively proven. Some researchers believe bisphosphonate drugs can prevent the formation of new blood vessels within jawbone tissue. If this is true, jawbone tissue will not heal as intended and bone mass deteriorates.
About 125 cases of ONJ have been linked with bisphosphonate drug usage. Many have been linked with pamidronate and zoledronate, while recent cases have increasingly been blamed on alendronate (Fosamax).
Osteonecrosis of the Jaw - Diagnosis and Treatment
Various x-rays can usually detect osteonecrosis of the jaw. A bone tissue biopsy may be performed to rule out other diseases, but this additional step could also create complications.
Catching osteonecrosis of the jaw early in its development is key. Early detection gives doctors better treatment options and patients a more favorable chance at recovery. Undiagnosed and untreated, ONJ can lead to irreversible bone collapse and disfigurement of the face.
There is currently no cure for ONJ. Antibiotic treatments combat infections associated with the bone disease. Patients can use removable appliances to cover and protect exposed sections of jawbone. Surgery can remove sections of necrotic tissue, though the procedure is potentially fatal or could result in the patient's inability to chew solid food.
Osteonecrosis of the Jaw Legal Issues
You may be entitled to compensaion if you or a loved one has used Fosamax and have suffered from osteonecrosis of the jaw. Contact a personal injury lawyer to inquire about your rights, file a Fosamax lawsuit, and start fighting for the compensation you deserve.
Another drug that has recently been designated with a health warning by the FDA is Actos. Long-term studies have shown that Actos is linked to bladder cancer. Lawyers who handle Actos and Fosamax lawsuits do not typically also help those injured in a DUI accident. To learn more about DUI, consult a DUI attorney and find about bail for driving under the influence.
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