Osteoid Osteoma: What is it? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Prognosis

We are talking about a non-cancerous bone tumor.

It is most commonly found on the femur (thigh bone) near where it attaches to the hip bone. These tumors are also found on the tibia (shin) and spine.

Osteoid osteoma is not considered a cancerous tumor as it is doubtful to spread throughout the body.

Symptoms include a dull, sharp pain in the bones, localized swelling and tenderness, a discrepancy in the length of certain limbs, and possible scoliosis.

With careful monitoring, some tumors resolve independently and can be controlled with over-the-counter pain medications. A few different surgical measures can also be taken in other cases, and the recurrence rate is relatively low if the tumor is completely removed.

Recommended care

It would help if you visited your primary care physician. This condition requires various treatments, such as minimally invasive surgery to kill or scrape the tumor.

How typical is osteoid osteoma?

Symptoms that never occur with osteoid osteoma:


  • Hip pain.
  • Bilateral leg swelling.
  • Weakness in both arms.
  • Deficiency of both legs.

Osteoid osteoma symptoms

The main symptom of osteoid osteoma is associated with bone pain. Other symptoms may also occur.

Main symptoms

Pain in the affected bone or bones can be described as:

  • Dull pain
  • Sharpstabbing pain – Although, this is rarely the case.
  • Worse at night.
  • It gets worse over time.

Non-activity related: If you have an osteoid osteoma in your leg, the pain will usually not worsen with running.

Aspirin Relief – This is a crucial feature. Aspirin relieves pain in the body by blocking prostaglandins, a molecule that mediates pain.

Osteoid osteomas release prostaglandins into the bloodstream, making sense for a drug that blocks prostaglandins, such as aspirin, to relieve pain.

Other symptoms

In addition to pain, other symptoms may appear, such as:

  • Localized swelling and tenderness: These tumors can be particularly painful when someone pushes on the growth site.
  • Limb length discrepancy can be experienced in the upper or lower limbs. If the tumor affects the growth plate, it can make the affected limb shorter than the opposite side. This can lead to trouble walking if the lower limb is involved.
  • Scoliosis: This is a deformation of the spine. Osteoid osteomas affect standard spinal architecture and bone growth. Scoliosis can lead to altered posture and difficulty walking, among other complications.

Causes of osteoid osteoma

The exact cause of osteoid osteoma is unknown. However, they are caused by an excess of osteoblasts.

Some other conditions are also associated with osteoid osteoma.

Osteoblast excess

Osteoblasts are cells in our bodies responsible for building new bone. The excess bone associated with osteoid osteoma is made up of osteoid bone, a different type of bone that we don’t usually see proliferating.

The osteoid osteoma also secretes prostaglandins, a chemical signaling molecule in our bodies that is often associated with causing pain.

Other diagnoses to consider if osteoid osteoma is suspected include:

  • Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone that is easily differentiated from osteoid osteoma with pictures.
  • Stress Fractures: Unlike osteoid osteoma, the pain from a stress fracture generally worsens with activity.
  • Osteoblastoma: An osteoblastoma is another non-cancerous, bone-forming tumor, but it is most often found in the spine, is usually larger than 2 centimeters, and pain does not usually improve with aspirin. These symptoms easily differentiate them from osteoid osteomas.

Who is the most affected?

This tumor occurs most often in young adults, usually in their early 20s, but is reported in people as young as four years old. Boys are affected by this condition two to three times more often than girls.

Diagnosis and confirmation

Osteoid osteomas are diagnosed with:

X-rays: Most osteoid osteomas are diagnosed with X-rays, in which the tumor usually appears as a small area of ​​thickened bone around a central nucleus.

CT or MRI scans: About 25 percent of osteoid osteomas are not visible on X-rays because the thickened bone has obscured the image. Therefore, will require these additional imaging methods.

Biopsy: A biopsy is a small sample of bone that is usually removed with a needle. They are rarely needed to confirm the diagnosis of osteoid osteoma.

Treatment and prevention options for osteoid osteoma

Some of these tumors will eventually resolve on their own. However, some treatment options are available, including conservative methods or surgery once the diagnosis is confirmed.

Treatments at home

If the tumor is asymptomatic or only causes mild pain, a doctor may recommend:

  • Monitoring: This involves imaging every four to six months.
  • Anti-inflammatories: NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or aspirin can be used to treat pain.


If you experience significant pain or bone deformities, surgical management of the tumor may be recommended. However, after these two procedures, most people can resume normal activities within a few days.

  • CurettageCurettage essentially involves removing the tumor from the bone and is the traditional method for these tumors. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia in which the tumor is exposed. Many times, removing cancer will leave a hole in the bone. This hole is usually filled with a bone graft taken from a donor or another bone in your body.
  • Radiofrequency ablation is a newer approach performed under general or local anesthesia. Using the image guide to locate the tumor, the surgeon delivers a high-frequency electrical current that destroys the cancer. People who have radiofrequency ablation generally go home the same day and typically have less follow-up than those who receive curettage.


If you choose to follow conservative observation of the tumor, it may disappear on its own in a few years. If surgical treatment is used, cancer usually does not recur unless it has not been completely removed.

You should continue to follow up with your doctor for an osteoid osteoma as long as symptoms or evidence of the tumor persists on the images.

When to Seek Further Consultation for Osteoid Osteoma

  • You should seek further consultation if you are experiencing a prolonged course of bone pain, especially if there has been no recent trauma or injury to that area.
  • If you have pain, tenderness, and swelling.
  • Unfortunately, if you have these osteoid osteoma symptoms, these are characteristic of many conditions, so your doctor will need to take pictures to diagnose.
  • If you have a confirmed diagnosis of osteoid osteoma.

It would help if you were informed that you have a good prognosis as this condition is not cancerous. You and your doctor will make a joint decision about whether to perform observation or surgical removal.