Osteoid Osteoma: Causes, Complications, and Long-Term Outlook

An osteoid osteoma is a non-cancerous bone tumor commonly found on the femur and tibia. While not cancerous, they can cause a great amount of pain and discomfort. Anti-inflammatory medications can help, as well as other treatments mentioned here.

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Last Updated July 14, 2020

Osteoid Osteoma: Causes, Complications, and Long-Term Outlook

An osteoid osteoma is a non-cancerous bone tumor. As a benign tumor, these can cause pain and discomfort, but will not spread to other parts of the body. 

These tumors usually develop in the long bones of the body, such as the femur and tibia (shinbone), they affect both men and women equally, and are diagnosed across races. 

Osteoid osteomas can develop in people of any age but are diagnosed most frequently in children and young adults.  

What Causes Osteoid Osteoma?

The cause of osteoid osteomas is unknown. As with any tumor, osteomas develop when cells divide in an abnormal and uncontrolled way forming a small mass. The tumor replaces healthy bone in the affected limb and is much harder than the bone it has replaced. 

In bones, osteoblasts that create new bone multiply quickly, while osteoclasts that break old bone down, are not. The osteoclast becomes part of the osteoma, and as it hardens into a tumor, pressure on the bone increases, causing pain.

Osteoid Osteoma Symptoms

The most common symptom associated with an osteoid osteoma is a dull, aching pain that gets worse, especially at night. The pain is not typically related to any movement, and in many cases, it appears for no apparent reason. 

Additional symptoms you may experience include:

♦ Swelling
♦ Limping
Muscle atrophy
♦ Bowing deformity
♦ Increased or decreased bone growth

Osteoid Osteoma Diagnosis

A physical examination will be done first, followed by imaging tests. Blood tests may be done to rule out infections that can cause similar changes in the bone. 

Imaging tests designed to identify the tumors include:

X-rays: These will look at bone structure and can reveal thickened portions of bone, which are characteristic of osteoid osteomas.

CT scans: These look at cross-sectional images of bone to identify lesions.

Biopsy: These are done to confirm a diagnosis after other tests have identified abnormalities. 

Treatment for Osteoid Osteoma

In most cases, osteoid osteomas will go away without treatment, although this can take several years. Using over-the-counter pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs can help bring relief. 

This type of medication may not work for long, so it may be necessary to try several anti-inflammatory medications. If you reach a point where medications are no longer bringing pain relief or if medications are causing other issues, such as heartburn or ulcers, then you may consider surgery.

Osteoid Osteoma Diet

Osteoid osteomas are not cancerous, but the development of tumors can cause pain and potential mobility issues. There is no way to prevent these, but the right diet can help promote bone strength, which will speed up healing should tumor removal be necessary. 

A balanced diet full of nutrients is the best way to promote overall health and to prevent weight gain. Proteins, antioxidant-filled fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grains are ideal ingredients for a healthy diet. 

To ensure bone strength and health is at optimal levels, be sure to get your recommended daily intake of vitamin D and calcium too.

Osteoid Osteoma Surgery 

Taking anti-inflammatory medications for an extended period of time can do damage to your stomach, which makes surgery an option for an osteoid osteoma. The two most common surgical procedures for osteoid osteoma are:

Curettage: This involves scooping out the entire tumor, making sure the whole thing is removed, so it does not grow back. An incision is made in the skin and soft tissues to reach the tumor, and in most cases, this procedure is successful.

Radiofrequency ablation: This is a newer option that is minimally invasive. The tumor is heated and killed with a high-frequency electrical current. This is done as an outpatient procedure, and you can go home the same day with mild pain relievers. 

Complications of Osteoid Osteoma

These tumors can be very painful, and sometimes, complications can occur as a result of bone swelling. Some of the more serious complications include:

♦ Scoliosis, if the tumor develops in the spine
♦ Enlarged bones or deformities when they develop in a small bone
♦ Deformity and stiffness when they develop at the end of the bone

You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience bone pain, along with any of the following symptoms:

♦ Severe worsening of pain without injury
♦ A fever over 100.4 
♦ Swelling that gets worse or does not go away
♦ Dark-colored urine after exercise
♦ Red, tender, and warm skin that overlays  bone

Osteoid Osteoma Statistics

♦ Males are affected approximately three times more than females.
♦ 50 percent of osteoid osteoma lesions are found in the fibula or tibia.
♦ The cortex of long bones is the most commonplace for osteoid osteoma tumors.
♦ Osteoid osteoma makes up 12 percent of all skeletal neoplasms.

Osteoid Osteoma in Children

Osteoid osteoma can develop in children too. Symptoms and diagnoses are the same for children as they are in adults. Medications to relieve pain are commonly given to children, but in many cases, the pain interferes with quality of life. 

Children are treated with the non-invasive CT-guided radiofrequency ablation to identify the tumor, and then it’s burnt off with high-frequency electrical currents. Recurrence in children is rare, but if it does appear, the same procedure is safe to use again for tumor removal.

What Is the Long-Term Outlook?

Individuals diagnosed with an osteoid osteoma have a positive outlook. The tumors can cause pain, but they are not life-threatening. In many cases, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications are all that is needed.

If pain is too severe, procedures can be done to remove the tumors, and with regular follow-up visits to the doctor, you can return to your life as before.

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