Spinal tumors are not a common cause of back pain. While these tumors are usually cancerous, this is not always the case. Primary spinal tumors come from inside the spinal tissue and are not cancerous. Metastatic spinal tumors are caused by cancer that has spread from another area of the body such as the breast, lung, kidney, prostate or thyroid. The fellowship-trained, board-certified spine surgeons of Atlantic Spine Specialists, Dr. Carl Giordano and Dr. Richard Nachwalter, specialize in diagnosis and treatment of spinal conditions. They are experienced in treating spinal tumors to help their patients maximize their quality of life.
Primary spinal tumors usually develop slowly with symptoms increasing over weeks to years; cancerous spinal tumors often progress very quickly. Symptoms of either type of spinal tumor may include one or more of the following:
- Back pain that does not improve with rest and increases while sleeping
- Weakness in the legs and hips
- Noticeable spinal deformity when vertebrae are impacted
- Loss of bowel control
In addition to the above symptoms, metastatic tumors may also cause:
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever, chills
For a visual reference you can watch animations of spinal tumors.
Accurate diagnosis is the key to appropriate and effective treatment for your pain. Dr. Giordano and Dr. Nachwalter are highly experienced in diagnosing spinal disorders as well as providing both surgical and non-surgical care. During your consultation, your doctor will:
- Review your symptoms (such as where you have pain, weakness, and numbness) and what limitations these symptoms place on your everyday activities
- Perform a physical exam including an assessment of nerve function, muscle strength, response to sensory input (such as pressure and touch) and check reflexes
- Evaluate your medical history
- Order diagnostic tests such as x-rays, CT and MRI scans or review the results of scans you have already had
Your doctor will review treatment options once he has diagnosed your condition and determined the cause of your symptoms. He will review the risks and benefits of each option and assist you in deciding which one is best for you.
Treatment for spinal tumors is most beneficial the earlier it is started. Dr. Giordano and Dr. Nachwalter may recommend one or a combination of the following treatments depending on the location and type of spinal tumor:
- Physical therapy to restore muscle control and strength
- Radiation therapy to shrink the tumor
- Spinal surgery to remove the tumor and stabilize the spine
Patients who have another type of cancer and experience sudden back pain for no known reason should consult a doctor right away.