Of the various causes of back pain, spinal tumors are the most uncommon. Many of the spinal tumors that are discovered are benign. However, even these tumors need to be treated by a spinal specialist. A spinal tumor of any kind can degrade the stability and integrity of the spine. Due to the potential for metastasis, malignant tumors must be treated as quickly as possible to achieve the best outcome. Here, we discuss how spinal tumors may present and how malignant tumors may be diagnosed and treated.
Spotting a Spinal Tumor
Spinal tumors may not be visible to the naked eye. They may originate in various areas, including the spinal cord, nerves, bones, or soft tissues around the spinal column. As tumors grow, they can cause compression on nerve roots or the spinal cord itself, resulting in symptoms such as back pain. In addition to discomfort, a spinal tumor may cause:
- Sensitivity to pressure on the back
- Discomfort or weakness in an arm or a leg
- Difficulty walking
- Balance problems
The signs of a spinal tumor can be challenging because symptoms resemble those that may be caused by several other spinal conditions. People often think that back pain is “no big deal;” a minor nuisance that comes with getting older. In any situation where backpain lasts longer than a week or so, or when back pain does not resolve with conservative medical care, a specialist should be consulted to perform a thorough consultation, medical history, and imaging.
Malignant Spinal Tumors: Diagnosis and Treatment
A combination of symptom-review, medical history, and a physical exam assist the spinal specialist in pinpointing the origin of back pain. Spinal tumors are identifiable on imaging tests such as MRI. A biopsy then identifies if the tumor is benign or malignant. This test obtains a small sample of the tissue within the tumor.
Malignant tumors require a multifaceted treatment approach involving several modalities. A spine specialist like Dr. Lipani would remove the tumor, while an oncology team would recommend adjacent treatments such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy to destroy malignant cells. The objective of treatment is to isolate the tumor, shrink it if possible, and remove all affected tissue from the body. When treated early, most patients with spinal tumors achieve excellent results from recommended therapies.
There are many good reasons to see a spine specialist for back or neck pain. Schedule an appointment in our Princeton office or other locations through our contact form or call us directly at 609-890-3400. We proudly serve Morristown, Paramus, Somerset, and surrounding areas.