Dysplasia: Overgrowing Bones

Robert G. Parker
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Dr. Parker is a podiatrist and surgeon in Houston, TX who has been helping patients for more than 40 years.

Trevor's disease in the ankleKids are resilient. They trip, fall, and bounce back up again. They even recover more quickly than adults from serious injuries like fractures. However, if they develop a problem related to their growth, then there isn’t a way for them to recover. As they continue to grow, the problem develops along with them. That is the case with dysplasia.

Overenthusiastic Cartilage

Also known as dysplasia epiphysealis hemimelica or Trevor’s disease, this rare bone growth condition affects joints. The cartilage on the ends of long bones, like the tibia and fibula in the lower leg, overgrows and develops into a mass. The result is a swelling bump in his or her knee or ankle. In rarer cases, the lesions could also appear around the heel, metatarsals, or toes. No one is quite sure how the problem develops, since it isn’t an infection and a genetic link hasn’t been found. The problem progresses as the skeleton grows, and halts when the bones reach maturity.

In some cases, the swelling doesn’t cause any trouble for your child. The lesions will still need to be monitored regularly to make sure they are not impairing the joint or damaging other structures around the ankle. If there are no symptoms, however, the spots can be left until the bones have finished growing and then removed. Sometimes, though, the overgrowth can significantly limit ankle mobility and cause pain. It can also make wearing shoes uncomfortable and walking more difficult. In those cases, an experienced specialist like Dr. Robert Parker will need to evaluate the joint and surgically remove the lesion.

Restoring the Joint

Since dysplasia is a bone growth condition, it can’t be remedied using purely conservative measures. Your child will need to have the cartilage lesions surgically removed to restore the ankle to full range of motion and comfort. Dr. Robert Parker will evaluate the mass and use diagnostic images to get a clearer picture of how it interacts with or inhibits the structures around it. From there he can plan how to best remove the lump. The procedure will excise the growth from the ankle, but if your child is still growing, the mass may return after a few more years of development. It’s possible multiple procedures will be needed to completely eradicate the problem. After the lump has been removed, your child may also need physical therapy to help condition the joint and restore any loss in the range of motion.

Swelling and bumps around the ankles, or any other joints in the lower limbs, is not normal and should be investigated. Dysplasia is rare, but if your child has it, he or she needs to have their bone and lesion development monitored. The expert staff at Parker Foot & Ankle in Houston can help walk you through the whole process of restoring your little one’s lower limbs to full health. Don’t wait and allow the problem to limit his or her activity. Contact our office for an appointment or more information by filling out the contact page on the website or by calling (281) 497-2850.