A tumor is defined as the growth of tissue in or on the body which is caused by unregulated cell reproduction. Tumors of the spine are relatively rare, and are often caused by cancers that began elsewhere in the body. Below is a helpful guide to spinal tumors along with common symptoms and treatments.
Tumors are usually divided into two groups: benign and malignant. Benign tumors are those which are not considered to be cancerous, though they can have repercussions if they interfere with some of the body’s vital structures. Malignant tumors are cancerous.
Spinal Tumors: Symptoms
As is the case with most tumors that may be present on the body, the signs and symptoms exhibited will vary depending on the type of tumor and its exact location. Common symptoms include:
- Difficulty walking or standing
- Loss of feeling in the arms or legs
- Radiating or static back pain
- Loss of or decreased sensitivity to external stimuli such as pain or temperature
- Loss of bladder or bowel function
- Muscle weakness, tingling and or numbness
Spinal Tumors: Treatments
If a spinal tumors discovered by your doctor, you may be screened for other types of cancer throughout your body, which involves various examinations and tests. There are three types of spinal tumors, each with varying types of treatment.
The first are known as intramedullary tumors, which are spinal tumors that grow from either the spinal cord, or individual nerves present in the spine, but especially in the neck. In most cases, these tumors are benign, but they still may require invasive treatment. The most common treatment available to intramedullary spinal tumors is a surgery designed to fully remove the tumor(s) from the spine in order to preserve proper neurological and nervous function.
Next on the list are intradural-extramedullary tumors, which grow outside of the nerves of the spine, but inside the membrane that coats the spinal cord. Like the intramedullary tumors, these tumors are also benign in most cases, and the treatment is exactly the same.
Finally, there are spinal tumors known as vertebral column tumors, which occur either in the spinal discs or in the vertebrae—the bones of the spine. These tumors tend to be present alongside other, more serious, forms of cancer, although this is not always the case.
Treatment will depend on the location, characteristics (which nerves, spinal components are involved), and nature of the spinal tumor (benign, cancerous). It may require chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, physical therapy or rehabilitation. Surgery may be used to remove pressure on the spinal nerves caused by the tumors, or to remove the tumors themselves. In addition, reconstructive surgery on the spine after the removal of the tumors may be necessary.
If you have any further questions about spinal tumors, please do not hesitate to contact OrthoUnited at (844) 469-2663, or request an appointment. Diagnostic imaging and consultation with a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon are very important steps towards properly diagnosing any musculoskeletal concerns, and ultimately finding the best treatment available.