What are the symptoms and treatment options for enchondromas?

Symptom Database

Enchondromas are a type of benign bone tumor that originates from cartilage. They are most commonly found in the small bones of the hands and feet, but can also occur in other bones throughout the body. While enchondromas are generally harmless, they can cause symptoms and may require treatment depending on their size and location.

Symptoms of Enchondromas

Enchondromas often do not cause any symptoms and are discovered incidentally during an X-ray or other imaging tests. However, when symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the affected area
  • Swelling or a lump
  • Weakened bone, leading to fractures or deformities

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Diagnosing Enchondromas

Diagnosing enchondromas typically involves a combination of medical history evaluation, physical examination, and imaging tests. Your doctor may ask about your symptoms and any previous injuries or medical conditions that may be contributing to your symptoms.

Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans, are commonly used to visualize the enchondroma and assess its size, location, and impact on surrounding structures. In some cases, a biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other potential causes of the symptoms.

Treatment Options for Enchondromas

The treatment approach for enchondromas depends on various factors, including the size, location, and symptoms associated with the tumor. In many cases, small enchondromas that are not causing any symptoms may not require any treatment and can be monitored over time.

Observation and Monitoring

If the enchondroma is small and not causing any symptoms, your doctor may recommend regular monitoring through periodic imaging tests. This approach allows the healthcare professional to track any changes in the tumor’s size or behavior and intervene if necessary.

Surgical Intervention

If the enchondroma is large, causing significant pain or discomfort, or leading to bone fractures or deformities, surgical intervention may be necessary. The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor and restore the affected bone’s stability and function.

Orthopedic oncology specialists are trained in performing bone tumor surgeries and can provide the most appropriate treatment options for enchondromas. The surgical procedure may involve removing the tumor and filling the resulting void with bone grafts or other materials to promote healing and prevent recurrence.

Non-Surgical Treatment

In some cases, non-surgical treatment options may be considered to alleviate symptoms associated with enchondromas. These options may include:

  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help manage pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy: Exercises and techniques prescribed by a physical therapist can help improve strength, flexibility, and function in the affected area.
  • Orthotic devices: Braces, splints, or other supportive devices may be recommended to provide stability and relieve pressure on the affected bone.

It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment approach based on your specific condition and symptoms.


Enchondromas are benign bone tumors that originate from cartilage. While they are generally harmless, they can cause symptoms such as pain, swelling, and weakened bone. Diagnosing enchondromas involves a combination of medical history evaluation, physical examination, and imaging tests. Treatment options range from observation and monitoring to surgical intervention or non-surgical approaches. Consulting with an orthopedic oncology specialist can help determine the most appropriate treatment plan for enchondromas based on individual circumstances. If you experience any symptoms or have concerns about bone tumors, it is important to seek medical attention for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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