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853 Jefferson Ave
Washington, PA, 15301

Podiatrist - Washington
853 Jefferson Ave
Washington, PA 15301
(724) 225-7410
(724) 225-9469 - fax

What is an Enchondroma?

An enchondroma is a small, benign (noncancerous) tumor made up of cartilage that forms on the inside of a bone. They are most commonly found in the small bones of the hands and feet, but can develop in the long bones of the upper arm and thigh as well. The growth of this type of lesion is rare after skeletal maturity, meaning they usually begin and grow in childhood. When present, they are usually seen in patients between the ages of 10-20.

While these tumors are fairly common, the exact cause remains unknown. They are believed to occur as a result of an overgrowth of the cartilage that lines the ends of the bones. An enchondroma is typically painless but there are cases where the tumor can involve a large portion of the bone. This can lead to a thinning of the outer layer of the bone, causing it to weaken and become vulnerable for fractures. In the foot, these tumors typically occur in the metatarsals or phalanges of the little toes. It can mimic the pain of an ingrown toenail when one develops in the small bone at the end of a toe. If there are multiple lesions, they can cause fractures and deformity.

Further Complications

An enchondroma can be one singular tumor or occur as several in the body. When multiple are present, the condition is then referred to an enchondromatosis. This is also known as Ollier’s disease and frequently occurs in the small bones of the hands and toes. This is a rare form of the condition, but one that can be quite painful depending on the number of tumors, where they are located, if they result in fractures, and if they become malignant (cancerous). Patients with multiple enchodromas have up to a 30% risk of the tumors becoming malignant. When there is a risk of malignancy, surgery is often encouraged to remove the tumors. It may also be necessary if the tumors are causing fractures, or causing one limb to grow shorter than the other or bend abnormally.

Another condition that involves multiple tumors is called Maffucci’s syndrome. This is a very rare form of enchondromatosis in which multiple lesions throughout the body are paired with hemangiomas, which are soft tissue blood tumors associated with blood vessels. The multiple tumors that develop early in life can cause skeletal deformities as they distort the normal structure of the bone. The risk for fractures is increased and the chance of malignant transformation is higher than with Ollier’s disease. There is no cure, so treatment is focused on alleviating any symptoms that arise and regular bone scans to monitor for fractures and malignancy.

What Symptoms Should I Look For?

Since this condition is usually painless, these tumors are typically discovered when a patient has an X-ray taken for another reason. We encourage you to contact us if you have any foot or toe pain, enlargement of a toe, or deformity. Most patients with this condition require no treatment besides regular monitoring of symptoms but should your tumors be aggressive, we will guide you through the most appropriate and effective treatment options for your condition.

Contact Dr. Philip Pinsker if you have any questions about enchondromas or concerns about your foot health. Call our Washington, PA office at (724) 225-7410 or request an appointment online