Enchondroma: Hidden Tissue Growth

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.

Enchondromas are difficult to detectIf a problem goes unnoticed, you don’t know you need to fix it. That’s hardly a revelation, of course. You may not notice a crack in your roof during a drought, or that your air conditioning broke down in the middle of a cold winter. Until the object suddenly fails when you need it, you don’t know to fix it. Similarly, you could have a bone tumor in your foot and never know it. Some small growths, like an enchondroma, may not display any symptoms until a complication sets in.

Benign, But Still Concerning

An enchondroma is a benign tumor that grows in the cartilage around your bones. They most frequently affect the bones in the feet and the hands, though lesions can appear in other places as well. No one is sure what causes these growths to develop, but they appear in childhood and grow with the skeleton until adulthood. The lesions themselves are usually painless and remain non-cancerous. The complications from their growth, however, can cause significant problems. The bump’s development can weaken the hard tissue around it and make you prone to spontaneous fractures. If the tumor gets too large, it can deform the foot as well, which can lead to discomfort.

Because the lesions aren’t normally painful or visible, you may not know you have one until a complication develops or the doctors requests diagnostic images for some other reason. The spots appear to be small, white lumps with circles or rings of cartilage on the X-rays. Once a tumor has been discovered, an experienced foot specialist, like Dr. Robert Parker, can help you determine the best course of action.

Since the lesions are usually painless, any bumps you notice need to be examined right away. The spot could have caused complications or developed into something more serious. In rare cases, the growth can change and become malignant chondrosarcoma. This is a dangerous cancer that must be addressed right away for a successful recovery. Even rarer, though, the enchondroma can be part of a pathological disease. Ollier’s disease and Maffucci's syndrome both cause groups of these tumors to grow, severely weakening and deforming your limbs.

Monitoring the Lesion

There isn’t much that can be done conservatively for an enchondroma, although in some cases treatment isn’t needed. Dr. Robert Parker will need to perform various tests to rule out cancer. He may also check for stress fractures or other complications that may have arisen. If the tumor is benign and there are no additional problems, the doctor may choose to just monitor the lesion to be sure it isn’t growing. If the growth is causing pressure, pain, or deformity in the lower limb, you will need more extensive treatment. Surgery to scrape out the growth and graft healthy bone to the area is a common solution. However, you will need to wait until any complications like fractures have resolved.

These benign tumors in the feet can easily be overlooked. Fractures from minor injuries or unusual bumps could be signs of abnormal growth, though. You should never ignore lumps or pain in your lower limbs. Instead, contact the experts at Parker Foot & Ankle in Houston. They can help you find out if your discomfort or injury is the result of a bone condition and determine the severity of any problem you may have. Fill out the online contact page or call (281) 497-2850 to reach us for an appointment or more information.