Overview of spinal tumors

Spinal tumors are rare and are most often the result of a primary cancer spreading to the spine from another part of the body. However, sometimes tumors do form within the spine without being present elsewhere. When this happens, the tumor may be benign or cancerous. In either case, the issue should be addressed immediately.

The spinal cord travels through a narrow space in the spinal canal. Any space-occupying lesion, including cysts and tumors, can compress nearby structures and cause loss of blood supply and dysfunction. Benign spinal tumors can cause serious damage to your health and may even be life-threatening. Do not ignore persistent or progressive back pain. Read on to learn about how to detect spinal tumors.

When to suspect spinal tumors

Although back pain is extremely common, spinal tumors are rare and grow slowly. Far more common causes of back pain are spinal injuries like herniated discs, pinched nerves or bulging discs. However, a tumor may be present if your back pain is accompanied by these symptoms:

  • Pain that worsens at night and radiates to different parts of the body
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Decreased sensitivity to hot or cold stimulus
  • Muscle weakness in the legs

If your pain is not activity-related and does not respond to over-the-counter pain medications after several weeks or months, seek medical attention. Your doctor will likely order an MRI, bone scan or CT scan to rule out the presence of a spinal tumor.

How spinal tumors are treated

If you have a spinal tumor, the only cure is complete tumor removal. However, depending on your condition, complete removal may not be possible without causing more damage than the tumor itself is likely to cause. You and your doctor need to weigh these risks. Typically, this depends on the accessibility and size of the tumor, whether similar type tumors grow rapidly, slowly or not at all, and whether the tumor is malignant or benign.

Once removal becomes medically necessary, your doctor will likely schedule surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible. If surgery is not possible, or if parts of the tumor remain after surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be required. You will probably also be prescribed medication, such as corticosteroids, to relieve inflammation and swelling that might be brought on by surgery or radiation.

Spinal tumors are nothing to ignore. If you think your back pain may be the result of a growth in your spinal region, seek medical attention as soon as possible. If your back pain is a result of a degenerative spine condition, such as herniated discs and bulging discs, contact Laser Spine Institute. We offer minimally invasive procedures that are safer and effective alternatives to traditional open spine surgery^ and may help relieve your pain and discomfort.

As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute has performed more than 100,000 patient procedures since 2005. Through the use of a small incision that is muscle sparing, our board-certified+ surgeons can relieve your back pain and provide you with the lasting relief you have been searching for. To find out if you are a potential candidate for our outpatient surgery, reach out to our dedicated team today and ask for a free MRI review.*