What is Hyperostosis?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2019
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Hyperostosis a condition characterized by overgrowth of bone. It can occur independently, or as a symptom of another disease process. Depending on what is causing it, hyperostosis can be associated with a number of different problems for the patient, including pain, deformations to the bone, and inflammation. An orthopedic specialist is usually involved in the diagnosis and treatment plan, and other medical professionals may be called upon as well.

A doctor can identify hyperostosis in a number of different ways. The overgrowth of bone can sometimes cause inflammation, pain, and other problems which bring a patient to a doctor, and subsequent medical imaging studies can reveal thickening of the bone. If a patient is diagnosed with a condition associated with bone overgrowths, a doctor may also be on the lookout for hyperostosis so that it can be addressed quickly when it appears. The condition may also be diagnosed as the result of X-rays taken for an unrelated reason.

Patients with hyperostosis can experience overall overgrowth of bone, or too much growth in specific bones. It is also possible to see exostosis, in which bone grows on top of bone. This can lead to problems with the joints, as the thickened bone may interfere with joint function, and overgrown bone can also impinge on nerves and the blood supply. If inflammation sets in, the patient can experience pain and related symptoms such as heat around the inflamed area.


Treatment for hyperostosis relies on addressing the underlying cause of the condition, which may also address the overgrowth of bone in the patient. In some cases, it may only be possible to manage the condition, rather than actively treating it. If the overgrowth becomes a serious problem for the patient, a doctor may recommend surgery to remove the excess bone. Management is directed at preventing permanent deformation of bone, which can lead to problems such as changes in limb length, damage to the joints, and so forth.

A form of hyperostosis known as infantile cortical hyperostosis can be present during the first six months of life, and is characterized by irritability, soreness, and fussing in the infant. This condition usually resolves on its own, although sometimes it results in lasting changes to the bone structure caused by inflammation and thickening of the bone. In diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH), ligaments which surround the spine harden, limiting freedom of movement and causing discomfort, pain, and inflammation.


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