HETEROTOPIC OSSIFICATION (HO)/CYST

Published: June 3, 2006
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Heterotopic Ossification (HO) is the development of abnormal bone in soft (non-skeletal) tissue, primarily in the region of the hip and knee joints. It occurs in many spinal cord injured individuals and may develop within days following the injury or several months later. Heterotopic ossification occurs below the level of injury. The cause of HO is unknown.

Most cases of heterotopic ossification cause no significant additional physical limitations, but in a minority of patients, HO may result in a major limitation of joint motion. The first symptom you may notice is difficulty or limitation in your ability to perform activities of daily living, especially activities that require you to bend at the hips. However, sometimes the onset of HO is more rapid, and symptoms at that time may be swelling of one hip and warmth and redness overlying the swelling. In addition to decreased Range of Motion and swelling in the area of the HO, other symptoms may include increased Spasticity, swelling of the entire leg, and/or elevated temperature.

If you suspect you have HO, contact your physician. He/shHe will do an X-ray of your hips and knees, a special isotope bone scan, and blood tests. A medication called Didronel is available and can slow down or arrest the process if started early. If you have HO, watch your skin closely. The HO can increase the amount of pressure applied to the tissue under certain bony prominences.

A significant loss of Motor function could strongly suggest a Cyst. The changes in sensation or motor function may develop gradually. You may notice that it is more difficult to do some of your Functional activities, such as holding a cup or putting on your clothes, or you may notice a change in your balance or find that you are burning yourself in places where you previously had sensation.

Be aware of your Sensory Level and muscle strength. If you notice significant changes, contact your physician, and give him/her specific information about the changes you have notices. A muscle and sensory test will be conducted. If you have neurologic deterioration due to a cyst, it may be corrected with surgery.

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