Spinal tumors can be a scary thing, but the doctors and nurses at Nebraska Spine Hospital aim to alleviate those fears with patient education and speedy treatment. There are different types of spinal tumors, each type with its own treatment options.
What Are Spinal Tumors?
A spinal tumor can be cancerous or noncancerous. A spinal tumor is a growth which develops inside the spinal canal, or inside the bones of the spine. There are two main types of spinal tumors according to the Mayoclinic.com:
- Intramedullary tumors begin in the cells within the spinal cord itself, such as astrocytomas or ependymomas.
- Extramedullary tumors develop within the supporting network of cells around the spinal cord. Although they don’t begin within the spinal cord itself, these types of tumors may affect spinal cord function by causing spinal cord compression and other problems. Examples of extramedullary tumors that can affect the spinal cord include schwannomas, meningiomas and neurofibromas.
What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Tumors?
Patients with spinal tumors will experience back or neck pain. These neck and back pains will often worsen at night and with physical activity. Tumors in the neck, called cervical tumors, will often cause numbness and/or weakness in the arms or legs. Tumors in the mid-back, called thoracic tumors may cause numbness and/or weakness in the chest or legs. Patients may also experience difficulty walking.
These are all pretty vague indicators that are also common with other types of serious injuries. So, these symptoms should always be reported to a doctor for precise and quick diagnosis.
How Are Spinal Tumors Treated?
When spinal tumors start to compress the spinal cord or adjacent nerves, they can cause severe pain. Even if the tumor is noncancerous, it can still be life-threatening. Growths of any kind on the spine can cause neurological problems and even paralysis, as they spread and create pressure. Spinal tumors of all types can be life-threatening and cause permanent disability. So, very often the first treatment option is to remove the tumor.
NSH offers the ability to remove them safely and effectively. If a tumor cannot be completely removed or is inoperable, there are options we can provide at Nebraska Spine Hospital to help treat these tumors. These options include radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and sometimes these ancillary treatments can include national research trials if so indicated.
Would you like to know more about spinal tumors? Check out this short video from Nebraska Spine Hospital, or contact us to speak with a NSH representative. We’re happy to answer questions and give advice.