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Spinal Cord Tumors

What are spinal cord tumors?

A spinal cord tumor is an abnormal, concentrated growth of cells that occurs in the spinal tissue, in the nerves of the spine or between the vertebrae and the membranes covering the spinal cord. Spinal cord tumors may originate in other areas of the body and spread to the spine. The cause of tumors that originate in the spine is unknown. They typically progress more slowly than those that spread from other areas.

Common symptoms

Symptoms of spinal cord tumors include:

  • Coldness in the arms or legs
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Loss of feeling in the legs
  • Muscle weakness or inability to function
  • Neck and/or back pain that isn't alleviated by pain relievers or that worsens with coughing or laughing

How are spinal cord tumors diagnosed?

If your symptoms indicate the possibility of a tumor, your physician will likely perform a neurological exam and ask about your medical history. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), are also used to help identify the presence of a tumor.

How are spinal cord tumors treated?

Spinal cord tumors generally grow slowly and worsen over time if left untreated. Treatment of spinal cord tumors may include surgery. However, many spinal cord tumors can be treated with radiation and chemotherapy. Sometimes, your physician will prescribe medications (such as steroids) to reduce swelling in and around the tumor. Because each case is unique, your healthcare team can help you determine the best course for your specific condition.

The surgeons at Rex Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists can help you decide on the treatment that's best for you. They specialize in minimally invasive spine surgery and are experienced in diagnosing and treating disc disorders and disease, using the newest techniques for relieving pain and returning you to an active lifestyle. To make an appointment at Rex Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists, call 919-784-1410.