What is Exostosis

By Charlesetta Johnson


An exostosis is a bony outgrowth that can occur anywhere on the body. Also known as a bone spur, this condition occurs when a bony growth extends beyond a bone’s usual smooth surface. These bony growths are made of calcium and can appear on any part of the body.

They are benign and can vary in shape and size and can most often be found in the following areas:

  • On the heel.
  • The back of the neck.
  • In between the joints.
  • The sinus cavity.
  • In the ear canal.

In some people, a film of cartilage may grow over the exostosis, which is defined as osteochondroma. This is the body’s way of trying to cushion the tissue from the exostosis. This condition can cause a range of symptoms and be chronic source of irritation and pain regardless of its size or location.

What is Exostosis? Also known as a bone spur, this condition can be treated by an orthopedic specialist.

Image of a patient experiencing pain in the heel.

What are the Causes and Types of Exostoses?      

This can be caused by many different things, ranging from genetics to environmental stress. The type is typically directly related to the cause. When it is related to family history is called hereditary multiple exostoses (HME).

Environmental stresses such as wind and water can cause blockages in the ear canal (surfer’s ear) and sinus cavity (paranasal exostosis) which can lead to bony outgrowths. Wearing certain shoes such as high heels or narrow footwear may cause irritation to an individual’s foot which can cause this condition to form. Haglund’s deformity and Saddle Bone deformity are examples of exostoses that can appear on the foot.

Damage to a person’s joints cause strain on the joints which can also lead to this condition in that specific joint. Osteocartilaginous exostosis, also referred to as an osteochondroma, involves a growth of cartilage and bone and normally appears at the ends of long bones.

What are the Symptoms of Exostosis?

Pain is a common symptom, ranging from mild to debilitating. The pain level is most often dependent on the size, shape and location of the exostosis. A person may start to experience symptoms if the condition is causing complications, such as pressing on blood vessels or nerves, which can lead to localized pain.

A person with hereditary multiple exostoses may experience stiffness, limb length discrepancies, or pain. Sometimes, people who have an exostosis may have no symptoms at all and are not aware of their condition until they have an X-ray.

How Do You Diagnose and Treat an Exostosis?

An exostosis can be identified by a physician from examining the patient, taking a family history, and x-rays. Once the physician determines the cause and extent of the exostosis a treatment plan will be provided. Conservative treatment, such as Physical Therapy can help to resolve the painful symptoms and can help to decrease the inflammation of the tissue that is irritated by this condition.

However, Physical Therapy can not decrease or reduce the size of the exostosis. If the exostosis painful or aesthetically displeasing, the physician might recommend surgery as a treatment option.

JOI Fracture and Injury Care

JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP fracture and injury care. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care. Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000.

If you feel you may be suffering from exostosis, our dedicated team of orthopedic specialists is ready to help you! To schedule an appointment call JOI-2000 or click the button below to schedule an appointment online.

What is Exostosis? Also known as a bone spur, this condition can be treated by an orthopedic specialist.

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By: Charlesetta Johnson

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