Having a painless lump near the joints of your body? You may be suffering from a condition known as Osteochondroma. Read on to know all about Osteochondroma, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Osteochondroma Definition

Osteochondroma is an unusual growth that appears near the end of a bone. It is a benign or non-dangerous tumor that consists of bone and cartilage. This abnormal growth is crested by a cartilage covering, known as the Osteochondroma cartilage cap. It is attached to the bone by a stalk.

Picture 1 – Osteochondroma
Source – orthoinfo.aaos.org

Osteochondroma is usually found at the end of long bones occurring at the joints. These non-cancerous tumors are more common at the shoulder or the knee.

Osteochondroma is one of the most commonly occurring benign bone tumors. It is also known as Osteocartilaginous Exostosis. Osteochondromas account for 10 – 15% of all bone tumors.

A person may suffer from a solitary Osteochondroma or multiple Osteochondroma.

Osteochondroma Age

Osteochondroma tumors generally arise in patients aged between 10 and 18. It rarely arises in people over 30 years of age. You can mostly find Osteochondroma in children and young adults. Osteochondroma in adults is very uncommon.

Osteochondroma Symptoms

Symptoms generally depend on the size and location of the Osteochondroma tumor. Small tumors of this type are generally asymptomatic. But a large Osteochondroma can give rise to a number of symptoms like


Sufferers of Osteochondroma disease may experience pain in the affected area. Osteochondroma pain usually arises in joints of the body such as in the knee, ankle, hip and wrist.


People with Osteochondroma commonly suffer from swelling in the region where tumor arises. Swelling is a very common symptom of this disease. The lump is usually painless when small but can be quite painful when enlarged.


If a Osteochondroma bone tumor blocks nerves or blood vessels, clots may develop on the body.


Obstruction of blood vessels by tumors can also result in weakness in the muscles.


Blockage of blood vessels or nerves by Osteochondroma growth can also give rise to numbness in sufferers.


Occasionally, the affected person may also experience a tingling sensation near the joints. This may be again due to blockage of nerves or blood vessels by tumors.


In rare cases, an enlarged Osteochondroma can put intense pressure on the bone. This may lead to a painful fracture known as “Osteochondroma Fracture”.

Osteochondroma and Cancer

In some cases, an Osteochondroma tumor can become malignant and turn dangerous to health. But Osteochondroma cancer occurs only rarely. In most sufferers, the condition is benign or non-threatening.

Malignant Osteochondroma Symptoms

Osteochondroma malignant transformation can be detected by the presence of symptoms like

  • Development of tumor after puberty
  • Pain at the area of tumor development
  • Presence of a cartilage cap bigger than 2 cm.

Osteochondroma Causes

Some of the most possible factors behind Osteochondroma formation are identified as


Solitary tumors generally arise after direct injury to the growth plates during periods of active development of the bone.

Hereditary Multiple Exostoses (HME)

Multiple Osteochondroma tumors usually develop due to an underlying genetic disease known as Hereditary Multiple Exostoses (HME). It is normally genetically transmitted from parents to offspring. HME can lead to abnormal activity of the growth plates. In Osteochondroma genetic factor can give rise to hundreds of Osteochondroma tumors in adolescents or growing children.

Osteochondroma Diagnosis

In case of an asymptomatic Osteochondroma X rays are needed to detect the condition. This detection usually occurs when patients carry out X ray tests for diagnosis of some other disease.

After a tumor is detected, a doctor carries out a number of imaging tests to check whether there are any more lesions.

It is also necessary to find out if the tumor is malignant. A sample of the tissue may be extracted and examined for malignancy.

Osteochondroma Differential Diagnosis

The Differential Diagnosis for Osteochondroma involves ruling out presence of other similar conditions like Chondroma, Chondrosarcoma and Chondromyxoid Fibroma. Solitary Osteochondromas can be mistaken for myositis ossificans, singular chondrosarcoma or osteosarcoma. Multiple osteochondromas can be confused with Ollier Disease or Benign Parosteal Osteochondromatous Proliferation. Radiographic tests can be very useful in distinguishing Osteochondroma from these conditions.

Osteochondroma Management

Solitary osteochondroma tumors are normally monitored clinically. If doctors want to follow single tumors of Osteochondroma radiographics may be required. In cases where diagnosis becomes difficult with radiographs alone, Osteochondroma bone scans may be necessary. MRI scans, CT scans and Ultrasonography can be useful.

Painful and complicated tumors are surgically removed. Surgical Osteochondroma excision is unnecessary for single or multiple Osteochondromas of a benign nature. But tumors of this type need to be closely monitored to ensure there is no malignancy involved.

Osteochondroma Treatment

An asymptomatic Osteochondroma or Osteochondroma benign tumor does not require any treatment. Doctors advise carrying out regular checkups to ensure that the tumor does not worsen. But treatment is necessary in case of a swollen and painful Osteochondroma tumor. An orthopaedic surgeon examines the tumor before treatment.

A painful and highly inflamed Osteochondroma tumor needs to be removed by surgical means. Osteochondroma removal surgery is a very easy process. Surgery involves complete removal of tumor by an expert hand. Surgeons also repair the bone and cartilage and make sure that the growth plate has not suffered any damage.

Osteochondroma Prognosis

Osteochondroma surgery has a high success rate. Chances of Osteochondroma recurrence are very dim after complete removal by surgical means. Osteochondroma surgery recovery is very high.  Solitary tumors are seen to come back in only 1 – 2 % of sufferers of Osteochondroma after surgery.

If you notice symptoms of Osteochondroma in yourself or anyone in your family, get in touch with your doctor immediately. As aforementioned, Osteochondroma is a benign condition but can lead to cancerous conditions in rare cases. A malignant Osteochondroma can be very discomforting and difficult to treat. So it is best to seek early treatment to get a faster recovery from this health syndrome.

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