The disorder of abnormal growths, Dysplasia

What is Dysplasia?

Simply put, dysplasia is a disorder that occurs when there is an abnormal growth of organs, tissues or cells. It can develop in different systems in the body resulting in many types of dysplasia. Each type of dysplasia has its own specific characteristics and requires a certain treatment method.

How Can Dysplasia Affect Feet?

Of the many types of dysplasia, there is a specific one called fibrous dysplasia that affects bones and joints. Scar-like fibrous tissue develops in place of normal, healthy bone. The pelvis, shins, upper arms and ribs are common areas to be affected by fibrous tissue but feet are also at risk as well.

Fibrous dysplasia is typically diagnosed during adolescence or as a young adult. It often affects only one bone and/or limb and the abnormal growths usually result in pain, deformity and brittle bones. Over time, as the fibrous tissue expands, the bone weakens and puts the area at risk for fractures. The abnormal growth of the fibrous tissue can also cause limbs to be different lengths.

What are the Causes and Symptoms for Fibrous Dysplasia?

Unfortunately, the cause of this fibrous dysplasia is unknown. It is known that it develops before birth due to a gene mutation but is not inherited and cannot be passed on to children. The tissues in our bones don’t ever stop renewing and fibrous dysplasia affects this process by causing bones to break down faster and developing fibrous tissue instead of normal, healthy bone.

Mild cases will often have no symptoms or signs that it is even present. Polyostotic fibrous dysplasia is when the disorder affects more than one bone and with this type, a patient is more likely to have more significant symptoms. With more serious cases, a patient might experience:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Bone pain
  • Fractures
  • Deformities of the bone and difference of limb length

How is Fibrous Dysplasia Treated?

Blood tests, biopsies, x-rays and scans first diagnose fibrous dysplasia. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disorder which forces treatment to be focused on helping to relieve the symptoms associated with the disorder. When a case is mild, your doctor will most likely just monitor the condition to make sure it is not progressing. If symptoms worsen, treatment will vary depending on the severity of the disorder and might include:

  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Pain management
  • Physical therapy

It is important to remember that foot pain is not normal. A disorder such as fibrous dysplasia is important to be detected early as the chance of developing cancer is increased with this disorder. Don’t ignore any unusual symptom, no matter how small it may seem. Keep your foot health a priority and make an appointment with Dr. Danciger. Call our office at (760) 568-0108 or contact us online.

Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle