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A spinal tumor is a growth that occurs within or surrounding the spinal cord and spinal canal. These tumors may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), and they can occur metastatically (as the result of cancer in another area of the body) or as a primary tumor where it originates in the spine.

What are the symptoms of a spinal tumor?

You may experience a variety of symptoms depending on the type of tumor and its rate of growth. Signs and symptoms can include the following:

  • Pain around the site of the tumor, generally as a result of tumor growth
  • Back pain that radiates to other parts of the body
  • Numbness or less sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Inability to control bowel or bladder function
  • Trouble walking or balancing, sometimes leading to tripping or falling
  • Worse back pain at night
  • Muscle weakness, especially in the arms and legs

Back pain is the most common symptom of a spinal tumor and often spreads to other areas of your body and worsens over time.

When should you see a doctor?

Most back pain is not a sign of a tumor, but early detection and treatment is important for recovery from spinal tumors. Here are some signs that you should see a doctor:

  • Your back pain is persistent and getting worse
  • Your back pain isn’t related to activities
  • Your back pain gets worse at night
  • You have a history of cancer along with your newfound back pain
  • You are experiencing other symptoms of cancer like nausea, vomiting, and dizziness

Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing progressive muscle weakness or numbness in your arms or legs or if you have any changes in your bowel or bladder function.

How is a spinal tumor treated?

Treatment for spinal tumors varies depending on the type of tumor. A primary spinal tumor may be removed surgically through en bloc resection, which involves removing the entire tumor for a possible cure. Patients with metastatic tumors may require palliative treatment like chemo and radiation therapy that primarily serves the purpose of preserving neurological function, stabilizing the spine, and alleviating pain.

If you are experiencing any of the scenarios outlined above, reach out to our office to set an appointment with Dr. Dickinson and determine the best course of treatment.

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