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Bone cyst - Symptoms of bone cysts

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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Bone cysts do not usually have any symptoms. They may not be discovered until you fracture (break) the bone, or until you have an X-ray.

Unicameral bone cyst

Most unicameral bone cysts do not cause any symptoms unless the bone has been excessively weakened by the cyst. If this occurs, your child may experience painful symptoms when placing weight onto the affected bone.

If the cyst causes the bone to fracture, it is likely that your child will experience additional symptoms, such as:

  • pain and swelling
  • bruising or discoloured skin around the bone or joint
  • angulation, which is where the limb or affected body part is bent at an unusual angle
  • inability to move or put weight on the injured limb or body part

Aneurysmal bone cyst

The most common symptoms of an aneurysmal bone cyst are:

  • pain (usually a persistent dull ache that gets worse over time)
  • swelling
  • a noticeable lump in the bone
  • the affected body part looks deformed
  • a decreased range of movement, weakness or stiffness in the affected body part
  • the skin in the affected area may be warm to the touch

If an aneurysmal bone cyst develops inside the spine, it can disrupt the normal working of the nervous system and cause additional symptoms, such as:

  • muscle weakness
  • a shooting pain in the legs or arms
  • persistent headaches
  • numbness or a tingling sensation in the arms and legs
  • loss of the ability to move one or more of the body's muscles

When to seek medical advice

You should always contact your GP if you or your child experiences persistent bone pain or any of the neurological symptoms, such as muscle weakness or paralysis, described above.

Medical Review: November 20, 2012
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