Spinal Tumors: Recognizing the Key Symptoms

Friday, December 14, 2012 - 10:03am

The spinal cord is one of the most sensitive parts of the body. This delicate bundle of nerves is responsible for so many of our daily functions, and tumors in this region require immediate care and treatment.

If these tumors apply pressure to the spinal column, it can cause back or neck pain. Because most people will experience non-cancer related back pain at some point in their lives, it’s important to recognize associated symptoms. Loss of bladder and bowel control, weakness in limbs, numbness, difficulty sensing hot or cold, and gradual decline in your ability to walk are other indicators that often go along with these types of tumors.

If you notice these symptoms for a prolonged period of time, or if they worsen, I would recommend investigating the problem with your physician.

Fortunately, spinal tumors are treatable. Diagnosis of a benign or malignant tumor determines the course of treatment. Both types may require surgery, but chemotherapy and/or radiation may also be needed to treat malignant tumors.

When treating tumors of the spinal column, there are two major factors to consider; the preservation of neurologic function and the stability of the spinal column. The bones found in the spinal column support your body. If a tumor destroys those bones, surgery or a spinal fusion will be needed to ensure life-long stability.

As with any type of operation, there is a certain amount of risk involved. However, patients who undergo spinal surgery typically do very well. Hospital stays following spinal operations are usually between three days and one week. In some cases, physical therapy may also be needed.