Osteoid Osteoma: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment


Osteoid osteoma refers to a benign tumor of the bone, which means it normally does not spread to other parts of the body. Typically, the tumor most often occurs in the legs, usually the long bones or legs, but it can also occur in other parts of the body such as hands, fingers, and spine.

Osteoid osteomas are considered to be related to osteoblastoma, another type of bone tumor. The difference between these two tumors is that osteoid osteoma does not grow larger than 1.5 to 2 centimeters while osteoblastoma is often larger than 2 centimeters.

Commonly, osteoid osteoma is seen in children and young adults between the ages of 7 and 25 although it can happen at any age. It is very rare for people aged over 50 to develop such a disease. According to statistics, about 75% to 80% of patients are less than 15 years old. Also, boys are more likely to get osteoid osteoma than girls.


At present, the exact cause of osteoid osteoma is still unknown. But researches and studies do find that the tumor arises from the osteoblast, the cell that forms the bone. It is a relatively common bone tumor but understanding how the tumor develops requires more efforts in the future.


The most typical symptom of osteoid osteoma is pain in the tumor site. Usually, patients with osteoid osteoma experience dull, aching pain. In rare cases, people with the condition may feel sharp, stabbing pain as well. At night, the painful feeling usually tends to become worse. And as time progresses, the pain often turns to be more severe.

Apart from pain, other common signs and symptoms of osteoid osteoma may include:

  • Localized swelling and tenderness
  • Limb length discrepancy
  • Scoliosis

If you have the above-described symptoms, especially if you feel pain in areas with no recent trauma or injury, you should hurry to the hospital and get a diagnosis.


Getting an early and accurate diagnosis plays a vital role in effective treatment. At the outset, the doctor may perform a physical examination, checking the patient’s reflexes, muscle strength, coordination, alertness, eye, and mouth movement and so on.

Then, to further confirm the condition, the doctor may order the following tests:

  • X-rays. This test can provide an overall assessment of the bony anatomy. Using invisible beams of electromagnetic energy, detailed images of internal tissues, bones, and organs can be obtained to help the doctor to make a primary diagnosis.
  • CT scans. In this procedure, X-rays and a computer will be used in combination to produce detailed images of bones and soft tissues. The scanning result can help to identify the extent of the tumor.
  • MRI scans. This scanning test can provide detailed images of the organs and tissues such as the brain and spinal cord. The result can help the doctor to rule out other possibilities.
  • A biopsy. A tissue sample of the tumor is extracted and taken to the lab so that the doctor can examine it under a microscope. This procedure can help the doctor to finally confirm the diagnosis.

After confirming a diagnosis, the doctor usually tailors treatment planning for each patient in line with their conditions.


Depending on the symptoms and the severity of the condition, the doctor may treat the patient with osteoid osteomas differently. In general, non-surgical treatment and surgical treatment are both available.

Pain Management

For patients with osteoid osteomas, they are most frequently affected by pain in the tumor site. To relieve the pain, people with the condition are usually recommended to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin. It has been proven that NSAIDs are well suited for the treatment of pain caused by osteoid osteomas.

Radiofrequency Ablation

If NSAIDs fail to ease the pain, surgery may be recommended by the doctor. By removing the tumor completely, pain can be relieved as well. Also, according to statistics, after the surgical removal procedure, the recurrence rate of the tumor is very low.

Radiofrequency ablation may be performed under such circumstances. The doctor will insert a needle beneath the skin and radiofrequencies will be passed through it so as to kill the tumor cells with a high temperature.

As a minimally invasive procedure, radiofrequency ablation can usually be done within 2 to 3 hours. Patients who receive the surgery usually can go home the same day.


In this surgical procedure, the tumor is scraped out of the bone. After receiving this surgery, the recurrence rate of the tumor is also very rare.

Curettage is a traditional method for removing these tumors. Generally, this procedure is performed under general anesthesia. After the surgery, the patient needs to receive regular follow-ups because this surgery bears a higher risk of complications and needs a longer recovery period.

Keywords: osteoid osteoma.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.