Enchondromas are non-cancerous cartilage tumors that can occur in the arms and legs.

  • Enchondromas are the most common type of bone tumor in the hand. 
  • Boys and girls of any racial background can be affected.
  • In general, enchondromas appear in adolescence or early adulthood.
  • Most researchers believe that enchondromas occur as a result of abnormal growth of the cartilage from the growth plate at the ends of the bones. 
  • Others believe that enchondromas grow from pockets of embryonic cartilage.

What are the symptoms of an enchondroma?

Most enchondromas don’t cause any symptoms. However, some children may experience pain in the affected area if any, or a combination of, the following occur:

  • The tumor becomes very large.
  • The tumor causes weakness of the affected bone, leading to a fracture.
  • The tumor causes abnormal growth of the affected area.

What other conditions are associated with enchondromas?

An enchondroma may appear as a solitary tumor or as multiple tumors. In cases that involve multiple tumors, the following conditions may be diagnosed:

  • Ollier's disease (enchondromatosis) — multiple enchondromas in various sites of the body; much less common than cases of single enchondroma.
  • Maffucci syndrome — multiple enchondromas associated with soft-tissue hemangiomas (benign tumors made up of blood vessels).

Support for your family

We understand that you may have a lot of questions when your child is diagnosed with an enchondroma. Is it cancer? Will it spread? What do we do next? We’ve tried to provide some answers to those questions in the following pages. Also, specialists at Children’s Hospital Boston often put patients and their families in touch with other families with children who have experienced this condition.

The Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program

You can have peace of mind knowing that the skilled experts in our Orthopedic Center's Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program have treated thousands of babies and children with many arm conditions.  We provide expert diagnosis, treatment and care, and we benefit from our advanced clinical and scientific research.

The Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery Program

The specialists in the Hand and Reconstructive Microsurgery Program at Children's are experts in the management of congenital and acquired hand deformities. We recognize the social elements involved in pediatric hand surgery, so an essential part of these operations has been making the child's hand as symmetrical as possible with his unaffected hand.