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Bone Bump Basics
Bone Bump Basics

"What is this lumpy bump and what can be done?!"

Whether on the hands, feet, or anywhere in between, one of the most common concerns we see are masses and growths of the bones and soft tissue. These ‘lumps and bumps’ can include everything from benign cysts and masses, to bone spurs, to more dangerous growths, and it can be hard to know just what you’re dealing with until you’ve had it checked out. But no worries, Orthopaedic Associates of Wisconsin to the rescue!

One of the most common diagnoses we’ll see is a simple fluid-filled cyst, which go by many different names—ganglion, Baker’s, mucous, synovial, and more—depending on where they occur. They arise from and around a joint or tendon, and can be caused by trauma, arthritis, overuse, or for no apparent reason at all. Often times these cysts come and go as they please, and can vary in discomfort as they get bigger or smaller.

Sometimes that lumpy bump is more solid in nature, such as with the bone spurs caused by arthritis. The degeneration of the joint and loss of cartilage that happens with arthritis causes increasing stress to the neighboring bones. The bone will often form a growth, or spur, in response that can produce the same bumpy appearance and pain of a cyst.

Lumps and bumps that are neither bone, nor fluid, but a distinct soft tissue mass can also occur. Unlike cysts, these often slowly, consistently grow over time, and unlike with arthritis X-rays are often normal. Soft tissue masses can run the gamut from small to large, shallow to deep, and benign to aggressive. Depending on the circumstances, these may require further imaging or even a biopsy to determine their make-up and origin.

Let’s move on to the exciting part: What can be done? Treatment varies depending on your symptoms and the diagnosis. While not destructive, cysts can grow large and cause pain by preventing surrounding structures from working normally. If symptomatic, removing the fluid from the cyst with a needle or injecting cortisone will often reduce symptoms. This is a simple procedure that can be done at your office visit. Surgical excision is an option if this doesn’t work, and is fortunately a relatively easy day-procedure that can be completed at The Orthopaedic Surgery Center attached to our Pewaukee clinic. For arthritic bone spurs, simple removal of the spur is often not enough—treatment of the underlying arthritis is also needed to help the symptoms resolve. Treatment of soft tissue masses varies widely by diagnosis, but fortunately most will go away—and stay away—with a simple excision.

Regardless of what lumps life throws at you, we can help! Call us at 262-303-5055 to schedule a consult today!

This blog is written by one of our very own-Morgan. She is a certified athletic trainer working as a medical assistant with our providers each and every day in our clinic. She obtained a bachelor's degree in athletic training from Carroll University in Waukesha and a master's degree in Kinesiology from Michigan State University. She is excited to bring you updates and information about the happenings at OAW.