What is an enchondroma?
An enchondroma is a type of noncancerous bone tumor that begins in cartilage. Cartilage is the gristly connective tissue from which most bones develop. Cartilage plays an important role in the growth process. There are many different types of cartilage in the body. An enchondroma most often affects the cartilage that lines the inside of the bones. It often affects the tiny long bones of the hands and feet. It may also affect other bones such as the thighbone (femur), upper arm bone (humerus), or one of the two lower leg bones (tibia).
An enchondroma may happen as one or several tumors. The health conditions that involve multiple tumors include the following:
- Ollier disease.When multiple sites in the body develop the tumors.
- Maffucci syndrome.A combination of multiple tumors and angiomas (benign tumors made up of blood vessels).
How common is an enchondroma?
Enchondromas are the most common type of hand tumor. While it may affect a person at any age, it is most common between ages 10 and 20. It affects men and women equally. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of an enchondroma?
With an enchondroma, you may have no symptoms at all. The following are the most common symptoms of an enchondroma. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Hand pain, if the tumor is very large or if the affected bone has weakened and caused a hand fracture
- Enlargement of the affected finger
- Slow bone growth in the affected area
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you or your loved one has any signs or symptoms listed above or you have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes an enchondroma?
The exact cause of enchondroma is not known. However, it is thought to happen due to either of the following:
- Overgrowth of the cartilage that lines the ends of the bones
- Persistent growth of original, embryonic cartilage
What increases my risk for an enchondroma?
Please consult with your doctor for further information.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is an enchondroma diagnosed?
Diagnosis is sometimes made during a routine physical exam or if the tumor leads to a fracture in the hand.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, tests may include:
- X-rays.A test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs on film.
- Radionuclide bone scans.A nuclear imaging test to evaluate any degenerative and/or arthritic changes in the joints, find bone diseases and tumors, and determine the cause of bone pain or inflammation. This test helps to rule out any infection or fractures.
- This test uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body. This test is done to rule out any associated abnormalities of the spinal cord and nerves.
- CT scan.An imaging test that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal images or slices of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.
How is an enchondroma treated?
Specific treatment for enchondroma will be decided by your healthcare provider based on:
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of the disease
- Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the disease
- Your opinion or preference
Treatment may include:
- Surgery. In some cases, surgery is done when bone weakening is present or fractures occur.
- Bone grafting. A surgical procedure in which healthy bone is transplanted from another part of the body into the affected area.
If there is no sign of bone weakening or growth of the tumor, your healthcare provider may simply keep close watch on your condition. However, follow-up with repeat X-rays may be needed. Some types of enchondromas can develop into cancerous bone tumors later. Careful follow-up with your healthcare provider is often recommended.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage an enchondroma?
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
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