Benign Bone Tumors in Children

Tumor: The word strikes fear in the heart of any parent, but there is a benign tumor that strikes children—most often boys between 10 to 20 years of age—called osteoid osteoma. Although painful, this tumor can sometimes be managed through physical therapy and pain medication, and should have no long-term effects on your child’s life.

Osteoid osteoma is characterized by a small bony mass that most frequently pops up on the hip or leg. Children complain of a deep, sharp pain that worsens at night or with increased activity and can only be relieved by pain relief medications. If your child exhibits these symptoms, your physician will perform tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging scans, computed tomography scans or bone scans, to ensure that the tumor is benign.

The pain of osteoid osteoma can often be controlled with over-the-counter pain relief medications. Sometimes, the tumors will spontaneously shrink on their own, and as long as pain can be managed and function restored, patients can avoid further interventions.

While physical therapy cannot cure osteoid osteoma, it can relieve some symptoms. If you decide to follow this approach, we will work with you and your child to ensure that he or she is able to function without pain and enjoy day-to-day activities.

A program of exercises will consist of general stretching and strengthening exercises that target your child’s muscular deficits. Your child will be instructed to avoid activities and positions that cause pain. The application of ice (cryotherapy) can relieve inflammation. If movement is difficult or continues to be restricted by pain, your child may perform exercises in a pool where the warm water and the lack of resistance can decrease pain and make motion easier. If your child undergoes surgery to eliminate osteoid osteoma, we can help afterward with exercises to improve range of motion and strengthen the leg or hip muscles.

Whether you opt to have your child pursue a physical therapy regimen prior to or following surgery, we can help him or her manage the pain and return to a favorite sport or daily life. Together, we can devise an individualized physical therapy treatment plan for your child.