Enchondromas are benign bone tumors that form in cartilage tissue in the bones. They are actually the most common types of bone tumors affecting the hands and feet. These types of growths are rarely the source of pain or other troublesome symptoms, so they can go undetected for years. Because of this, it’s common for patients to learn about the presence of an enchondroma when getting x-ray imaging for an unrelated issue.
They can appear anywhere in the body, but in podiatry, the most frequent location is in the bone under the toenail. The overgrowth of cartilage can appear as a single tumor or as a cluster of numerous tumors. If left untreated in the toe, the tumor may start to cause pain similar to an ingrown toenail. Within the toe bones, which are small and tubular in profile, an enchondroma can thin the structural bone, weakening it over time. This makes the bone vulnerable to sudden fractures.
Ollier’s Disease, or Enchondromatosis, is a disorder in which numerous enchondromas develop in the small bones of the foot, specifically the metatarsals and phalanges. Ollier’s Disease usually afflicts one side of the body more severely than the other, and these patients face a greater risk of the tumors becoming malignant.
Treatment for enchondromas is generally not required, unless pain levels have limited a patient’s mobility, or x-rays show that the tumor places the bone integrity at risk. In these cases, your podiatrist can recommend the surgical removal of an enchondroma.