Spinal Cord Tumors - Symptoms and Causes

24 Nov,20

The Spinal Cord is a primary component that holds up the entire bone structure. It is a membrane that holds up the collective of vertebrae and support muscles that connect all the veins and the blood vessels to each part of the body. It is the most delicate part of the skeleton. Any tumor that develops in this part of the body is very painful. Spinal cord tumor, medically called intradural tumour, is specifically the tumour that starts in the spinal cord. It is one of the major reasons most individuals opt for spine surgery.

There are five types of spinal cord tumors that can cause ailment in a person. These tumors can be reduced or treated with spine surgery. Some tumors are intramedullary, which means they start from within the cord. Some tumors are extramedullary, which means they start somewhere else but end up affecting the spinal cord. 

Symptoms of spinal cord tumors are subtle in earlier stages. These symptoms soon become disabilities as the stage of the tumor progresses. Due to the functionality of the spinal cord, limber movements, sensations, and other brain functions could be at risk due to a tumor. It is advisable to visit a spine surgery hospital & get advice from an expert as to the line of treatment required. One should keep a regular check and note sudden changes in body.

Symptoms

Spine tumors do not have dictating symptoms. But there are a few red flags that an individual should look out for. One should consult specialists at spine surgery hospitals as soon as they notice any one of these symptoms becoming more severe or continuous:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Un-intended, sudden weight loss

  • Nauseous feelings, followed by vomiting

  • Excessive fever, sudden chills or shakes

  • Pain in any specific region of the back or during specific times in the day

  • Lack of sensations in specific regions of the body or in any part of the lower body

  • Pain like sharp needles pinching

  • Inability to move

  • Loss of control over fecal excreta

  • Loss of balance

  • Untimely memory loss

  • Speech and visual difficulties

An individual may experience symptoms in varied combinations. These are some of the spine tumor symptoms, which might require spine surgery, to be reversed, so that one has a better chance at living a healthier life. Symptoms depend on the location of the tumor, and the health of the individual

Causes

The major causes of spine tumor are either tumor(s) developing within the spine or tumors from other parts of the body traveling to the spine (Intramedullary & extramedullary). Experts at several spine surgery hospitals have noted that there are times when tumor cells from lungs and ovaries travel to the spine and become a spinal tumor. Tumors can develop at any age. Therefore, there is no set age for spine surgery either. A young child, a youthful adult, or and middle-aged people could require a visit to a spine surgery hospital at any time. There are a few causes that can create a tumor and in turn a need for spine surgery. These include:

  • Leftover cell-developing cells from embryo

  • Inherited medical conditions: Von Hippel-Lindau disease and Neurofibromatosis 

  • Cell mutations in astrocyte cells (these support nerve cells)

  • Cell mutations in ependymal cells (these line passageways where cerebrospinal fluid travels from spine to brain)

  • Cell mutation in glial cells (These cells support nerve cells)

  • Cell mutation in arachnoid mater (It is a membrane that lines up the spinal cord)

  • Cell mutation in nerve cells in the  cervical region

  • Prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals in industrial settings

  • History of breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, or multiple myeloma

  • Compromised immune systems leading to development of lymphomas in the spinal cord

For each individual, the cause & risk factors may differ. If any individual has a history of a tumor in their immediate family, it is best to get tested for genetic conditions from any specialist at the nearest spine surgery hospital.

Tumors in the spinal cord are extremely close to the nerve and the entire nerves system. Any tumor in this region needs to be handled delicately hence, it is always best to get a second opinion in case of spine surgery. This is because a strong-headed approach in such a case can cause more damage to the very delicate spinal cord. Tumors may cause irreversible damage to a certain part of the body and severely affect the quality of life of a patient. At Sarvodaya Hospital & Research Centre, Sector-8, Faridabad; our expert team of spine surgeons, always take into consideration the factors that may affect a patient’s condition, treatment & recovery, before recommending any surgical options. There are situations when our surgeons ask patients to prepare for multiple surgeries as well, as these might be extensive, depending on the location & accessibility of the tumor. 

Patients recovering from spine surgeries due to a spine tumor also need extensive post-operative care after discharge. If you recognise any symptoms in your loved ones, schedule an appointment with a spine specialist without any delay, as late detection could put an individual’s life at risk.