An osteochondroma is a benign (noncancerous) tumor on the surface of your bone. Osteochondromas often develop near the growth plate of a bone during childhood. A growth plate is cartilage near the ends of long bones, such as the thigh bone. You may have one or more tumors. Osteochondromas may prevent your bones from growing normally or cause them to become deformed. The cause of osteochondromas is unknown.

What are the signs and symptoms of an osteochondroma?

You may have no signs or symptoms, or you may have any of the following:

  • A painless bump near a joint, such as the knee or shoulder
  • Pain with activity
  • Numbness or tingling in the limb that has the osteochondroma

How is an osteochondroma diagnosed?

An osteochondroma may be diagnosed during childhood or adulthood. Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and any medical conditions you have. He will examine your bone and check your range of motion. You may also need the following:

  • An x-ray, CT scan, or MRI will be done to show the size and location of the tumor. You may be given contrast liquid to help the tumor show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A biopsy is a procedure that is used to remove a sample of bone and send it to a lab for tests. This procedure may be done to check for cancer.

How is an osteochondroma treated?

Treatment depends on the size of your tumor, its location, and whether or not it is causing problems. You may not need any treatment. Your healthcare provider may only recommend that you get regular x-rays to check for any tumor changes over time. Surgery to remove the osteochondroma may be needed if it is causing serious problems, such as pain or pressure on a nerve or blood vessel. Surgery to straighten any deformed bones may also be needed.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You notice that your osteochondroma is getting larger.
  • You develop pain, numbness, or tingling in a limb.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.