Making sure you stay healthy means more than just eating fruits and vegetables and getting daily exercise; it also means staying on top of bodily conditions to make sure nothing gets out of hand or goes unnoticed. This is why it’s important to learn how to recognize when something is wrong in your body and take the proper steps to treat that problem.
Osteoma isn’t the most common health problem, but it’s definitely something you should know about. An osteoma is a tumor made of bone that grows on top of another piece of bone. For the most part, these tumors are benign (not malignant) and don’t require any treatment. However, having an extra chunk of bone can interfere with some bodily functions, so it’s important to have your osteoma checked out and treated if necessary.
How to Diagnose Osteoma?
Because osteomas are benign and somewhat rare, they can be fairly difficult to diagnose without the help of a medical professional. In fact, you may not figure out that you have an osteoma unless you physically feel it because they are known to cause no symptoms. That’s not to say they can’t cause problems; an osteoma can lead to headaches, sinus infections, and even problems with your hearing or vision. If you notice any of these symptoms and feel an osteoma somewhere on your head or neck, you should have a doctor examine you to make sure you don’t need treatment.
Here are some basic facts about diagnosing and treating osteomas to help you decide the best course of action for your circumstances.
What Is Osteoma?
Normally, your bones grow in a very standard pattern that gives your body the “normal” look that most people have. However, sometimes your bones don’t grow the right way. This can happen for numerous reasons, but bone tumors are a result of your bone cells dividing in a way that they shouldn’t. When bone cells divide, a new chunk of bone grows on top of another piece of bone and creates a tumor.
Osteoma is the type of bone tumor that results from the splitting of cells. These tumors usually occur in the head or neck, although other parts of the body such as the leg can be affected as well. Osteoma tumors are almost always benign and occur somewhat frequently in people in their early 20s.
Although osteoma itself is not usually a condition that requires treatment, it’s important to visit the doctor to have your osteoma examined for two reasons. First, an osteoma can lead to some health problems if it’s in a bad spot. Second, there are numerous different types of bone tumors, some of which are commonly benign and some of which can be a sign of bone cancer. Since early detection plays such a large role in successfully treating cancer, it’s important to have your osteoma checked out as soon as possible to rule out something more serious, like bone cancer.
The majority of patients who have an osteoma tumor don’t actually have any symptoms. In fact, most people find out they have an osteoma simply from feeling the actual bump on a bone in their neck or head. That is why you can have an osteoma for quite some time without even knowing it.
If you do have any symptoms in conjunction with your osteoma, it is probably one of a couple of fairly common conditions. You may form some sort of deformity because of how the osteoma affects the bone it’s growing off of, whether it be a broken bone or a bowing in your legs. You may also experience swelling in the area due to irritation caused by the osteoma, which usually comes with a significant amount of pain. In fact, pain is the symptom you’re most likely to feel with an osteoma because the additional bone can cause irritation. At first, your pain may be mild and easily relieved with medication, but once it’s accompanied by swelling it usually causes significantly more pain.
Other symptoms of an osteoma include limping, muscle atrophy, changes in bone growth. And pains that become much worse at nighttime.
Patients experiencing any of these symptoms, especially if they are severe and affecting day-to-day life, may consider having surgery. This is to treat the osteoma if over-the-counter medications aren’t helping.
Other Types of Tumors
As previously mentioned, there are numerous types of bone tumors that can sometimes mimic the symptoms of osteoma. Because of this, it’s important to understand what you’re looking for so you can watch out for serious tumors. Here are some of the different types of tumors and how you can distinguish between them. And what you can do to treat them.
Osteochondroma is near the top of the list for common benign bone tumors. These benign tumors are generally found in people under the age of 20 and don’t typically cause too many problems. An osteochondroma can cause some symptoms. Including pain with activity, numbness or tingling, and changes in blood flow in the affected area.
Giant cell tumors are most common in adults between the ages of 20 and 40 and are also benign. These tumors can, however, cause joint pain and swelling in the distressed area. Also, difficulty moving the affected joint, a lump where the tumor is, and in the most severe cases, a broken bone.
Other types of benign tumors commonly found in patients include osteoblastoma. This is a tumor found in young adults, commonly on the spine. And enchondroma (a tumor most commonly found in the hands or feet).
For the most part, bone cancer is the result of cancer from another part of the body. And spreading to the bones as it progresses past a certain point. However, there are some cases where cancer actually starts in the bone. These cancers are referred to as bone sarcoma and can be broken down into a few main types.
Osteosarcoma is usually found in the knee or upper arm of young adult patients. It may be found in older adults as well. But generally only if they have Paget’s disease. Ewing’s sarcoma is another type commonly found in younger children. Most frequently affecting people between 5 and 20 years of age. While typically found in the bone, Ewing’s sarcoma can start in the soft tissue immediately surrounding the bone. Chondrosarcoma is the most common form of bone cancer in older patients. This is with most chondrosarcoma patients falling between the ages of 40 and 70. While the sarcoma can remain somewhat hidden, it most often presents itself in the same way as osteoma. Causing a dull, achy pain in the area of the tumor that may become more severe and wake you at night. Also, the pain often gets worse when you use the affected joint or bone.
Seeking Medical Attention
If you have a lump on one of your bones, your first course of action should be paying a visit to the doctor. While these lumps are often a simple benign tumor, they can be a sign of something much more severe. Especially if you aren’t experiencing pain or any other symptoms. If your bone tumor is diagnosed as bone cancer, detecting it early could mean the difference between life and death.
Because benign tumors like osteoma often come with no symptoms and aren’t much of a serious threat. You may decide not to visit the doctor at all. This is completely up to you. However, if you start to feel any of the symptoms of bone cancer combined with your bone tumor, you should see a doctor right away to rule out a more serious cause like bone cancer. A doctor can perform a physical exam. Also, do blood work, and even use imaging tests to get a good look at your tumor. If he or she has reason to believe it’s something more serious, a biopsy may be performed. Your doctor will take a small sample of the tumor to test it for cancer as a final confirmation.
You should also seek medical treatment for your osteoma if it’s causing you pain. While a benign bone tumor isn’t a serious condition on its own, it needs to be addressed if it’s causing a sinus infection or massive headaches. Or if you simply can’t fall asleep or stay asleep at night because of the pain it’s causing you. Your doctor can help prescribe a course of treatment that will help you manage your symptoms. If your osteoma becomes too serious and is affecting your quality of life, surgery may be an option.
The most important thing is that you keep an eye on any strange lumps you notice. Especially those that are made of bone. This could be a sign that you have a simple problem like osteoma that won’t manifest into anything larger. But it’s important to rule out other possible causes. If you do need to seek medical treatment for your osteoma, make sure you understand your various treatment options and what you can do to keep osteoma in check. The better you treat your body, the better your doctor can help you.