If you’ve recently been experiencing substantial amounts of back pain, it’s possible that you’re suffering from spinal cancer because of the presence of a tumor in your spine. While these types of tumors aren’t common, they do occur from time to time and can lead to a variety of complications if not treated early enough. These tumors tend to compress the nerves in your spine, which can cause an excessive amount of pain as well as a loss of sensation below the affected area. While it’s possible for the nerve damage caused by these tumors to be permanent, early and aggressive treatment may be able to help you regain the nerve functions you’ve lost.
Symptoms of Spinal Cancer
Given the fact that there are a variety of different types of spinal cancer, the symptoms associated with these cancers can differ from one another. However, there are some similar symptoms between these cancers that you should be on the lookout for. When a tumor develops along the spinal cord, it will invariably press down against the bones, nerve roots, and blood vessels of your spine, which is what causes most of the symptoms that occur because of spinal cancer.
The pain that you experience in your back will occur at the site of the tumor and will worsen as the tumor grows in size. You might also begin to be less sensitive to heat, cold, and pain in the back, which occurs when the nerves around the spine are damaged. The pain that you experience will likely radiate to other portions of the body as the cancer progresses. You may also start to lose your ability to control your bladder and bowel functions. The pain will usually worsen at night.
If the tumor grows to a large size before it’s detected, it’s possible that you’ll start finding it difficult to walk because of a loss of mobility, which will likely lead to falls that can be even more dangerous to your health. The muscle weakness that you experience will mostly occur in your arms and legs even though the tumor is located in your spine. This muscles weakness can range in severity from mild to serious.
Treatment Options Available to You
There are a wide range of different treatment options that you can choose from when affected by spinal cancer. The goal of most spinal cancer treatment is to remove the entirety of the tumor that’s causing the symptoms that you’re going through. However, it’s possible that the tumor is situated in a manner that makes it difficult to have the tumor removed without causing severe and permanent damage to your spinal cord as well as the surrounding nerves. The exact treatment that’s recommended to you by our spine doctor depends on your current health as well as your age. Other factors such as the type of tumor and how much the tumor has spread will also be considered when looking at your treatment options.
If the tumor is small enough and has yet to press down on any of the spinal nerves or tissues, it’s possible that the only treatment you’ll initially be provided with is monitoring of the cancer. This treatment method is typically used in situations where the tumor was identified before the cancer caused any symptoms, which usually happens during a routine checkup. A doctor will carefully observe the cancer to ascertain if it’s spreading. While the cancer is being monitored, your doctor will likely administer an MRI or CT scan to better ascertain how the tumor is progressing.
If there is a risk of damage to your nerves or spinal cord, it’s likely that surgery will be recommended. Different surgical techniques are used depending on the size, location, and type of tumor that you’re suffering from. Advancements in the field now allow for previously inaccessible tumor locations to be reached and treated. The spinal cord is monitored heavily during these procedures to ensure that this area isn’t damaged in any way. There are also times when sound waves are used to break up the tumors, which allows them to be easily removed. It’s possible that surgery won’t be able to remove the entire tumor. If this occurs, additional treatments may be necessary. The recovery process for spinal surgery can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
If some remnants of the tumor still remain or the tumor itself was deemed to be inoperable, radiation therapy may be recommended. The radiation is targeted but can cause a variety of side effects, most of which can be managed with certain medications. With this treatment, intense beams of energy are used to kill the cancer cells. Chemotherapy is a similar treatment that’s used to remove or kill certain cancer cells along the spine. Chemotherapy is typically administered through a vein, after which you will be monitored to make sure that any side effects are well managed. At its most successful, chemotherapy can completely destroy cancer cells. However, it may only be able to ease the symptoms you’re experiencing or stop the cancer from spreading.
If you’ve been diagnosed with spinal cancer and are searching for the right treatment, contact us today at (305) 901-1511 to schedule an appointment and learn more about the various treatment options available to you. Our professionals here at Miami Back Specialists will provide you with exemplary care throughout every step of the treatment process.