Heterotopic ossification (HO) is the growth of bone in places where it’s not supposed to be. It can happen anywhere in the body. The hip, knees, shoulders, and elbows are the most common places. Growths can be small or large.
The cause of HO is unknown. There may be a genetic link. HO can also happen because of trauma.
Your chances of HO are higher if you have:
Symptoms depend on how serious HO is. It also depends on where there is bone growth. HO may cause:
- Decreased range of motion
- Swelling or redness to joint(s)
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may also have:
- A physical exam
- Blood and urine tests
- Tests on fluids from your skin or cysts
- Imaging tests:
You may be referred to a specialist.
The level of care needed depends on how serious HO is. Care may involve:
Therapy is an important part of your care plan. Range of motion exercises will help to move around better. It can also keep the HO from getting worse. This may include stretching and strength training.
Your doctor may advise:
- Non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce swelling and pain
- Bisphosphonates to prevent the bone loss
Radiation therapy may help prevent abnormal bone growth, mainly after hip surgery.
Surgery may be used to remove the abnormal bone. This will help improve range of motion. Radiation therapy and medicines are mainly used after surgery to prevent recurrence.
There’s no way to prevent HO because the cause isn’t known. If you’re at high risk for HO, talk to your doctor.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcie L. Sidman, MD
- Review Date: 05/2018 -
- Update Date: 06/21/2018 -