Dr. Robert 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.

Osteochondroma is a benign tumorStalactites and Stalagmites in Your Feet?

If you’ve ever been in a cave, you’ve probably seen those intricate formations hanging from the ceiling or growing up from the floor. Water dripping over eons of time deposits calcium and creates these beautifully sculpted structures. If you go spelunking, you are privileged to see the results. It’s not such a privilege, though, when a similar thing happens in your feet. Extra calcium deposits at the ends of your bones – though they may have a certain beauty on an X-ray image – can cause pain and limit your movements.

Bone Growths or Bone Tumors?

Osteochondromas are called benign bone tumors by some, while others speak of growth disturbances, or developmental lesions. However you refer to them, they are abnormal, non-malignant growths at the end of the bone growth plate. While most affect the long bones in the body, about 10% of such growths appear in the feet, often at the end of the bone under the toenails, and occasionally in the heel or ankle area. They commonly occur between the ages of 10 and 20, with boys being twice as likely as girls to develop them.

Osteochondromas: Hard to Diagnose

These growths often cause no pain. In fact, you may not even know you have one unless you are x-rayed for some other problem. If the tumor irritates the surrounding tissue, you might experience some redness or pain at the site. Sometimes the growth on the toe bone can cause the nail to become deformed and an ingrown toenail to form. Only after the composition of the growth is actually analyzed would you know it was an osteochondroma.

Many times these growths are the result of a trauma to the toe, and then you may experience discoloration of the nail, swelling, and pain. If you notice symptoms like these, it is important to contact Parker Foot & Ankle for an evaluation. We may need to use X-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI to fully diagnose the problem and determine the best treatment.

How the Growths are Treated

If the tumor isn’t causing pain or reducing normal activity levels, no treatment is needed other than to monitor the situation. If you feel a throbbing pain, your toe looks larger than normal or swollen, or you have trouble walking normally, surgery to remove the growth is probably necessary. After the bony growth is removed from under the toenail, the area is bandaged and a protective boot is worn for a couple of weeks. The nail bed usually heals quickly, and you could return to full activity within two months. Surgery for tumors in other areas of the foot may be more complicated and involve longer healing times.

Help Is Nearby in Houston

If you experience the symptoms above, or have an ongoing issue in your feet or ankles, contact Parker Foot & Ankle at (281) 497-2850 to set up a consultation. Dr. Robert Parker uses the latest technology to diagnose and treat all kinds of foot problems. Contact us today, and let us put our expertise to work for you!