Spinal Tumors Surgery

What is a spinal tumor?

A spinal tumor is an abnormal growth that occurs within the spinal canal or the bones of the spine. These growths can either be cancerous or non-cancerous. In some case, tumors from other parts of the body can spread to the to the vertebrae and the region around the spinal cord. In some cases, they can affect and spread to the spinal cord itself.

Cancerous tumors are known to grow at a more progressive rate that non-cancerous tumors.

There are two major types of spinal tumors namely:

  •  Intramedullary - is known to start with the cells of the spinal cord they are known as astrocytomas and ependymomas.
  • Extramedullary tumors - starts within the cells that surround the spinal cord. They can cause compression of the spinal cord nerves. Examples of these tumors include schwannomas, nurofibromas and meniniomas.
Why spinal tumors occur
The reason for the development of spinal tumors is not clear but it can be as a result of abnormal genetic or environmental influences.
People who are more prone to develop spinal cord tumors include:
  • People with Nurofibromitosis 2 - as a hereditary disorder, these tumors are non-cancerous and are caused due to a family history of spinal tumors. Nurofibromitosis 2 can cause hearing loss in one or both ears.
  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease - this disease is a result of non-cancerous blood vessel tumors that develop within the brain as well as in the retina of the eye, spinal cord as well as renal glands of the kidneys.
  • History of cancer - a patient with a history of cancer or cancer within the family can develop spinal tumors. They can be caused by breast cancers, lung cancer, prostate cancer and multi myeloma.

Symptoms of spinal tumors

A spinal tumor can showcase various symptoms which include:

  • Muscles weakness and numbness in arms and legs
  • Pain from the back can radiate from the back through to the neck, legs and or arms
  • Difficulty urinating
  • General loss of sensation
  • Change of bowel habits
  • Various degrees of paralysis

Back pain is a common symptom of spinal tumors (cancerous and non-cancerous). Sometimes treatment isn't enough to soothe the severe pain.

You should see a doctor when you experience back pain that is persistent, severe, occurs even when you're not active, worsens at night and if you have a family history of cancer within the back.

NB! You should not hesitate to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you experience severe and progressive numbness of the limbs as well as a change in bladder and bowel function.

A spinal tumor can compress the nerves in the spinal cord and lead to immobility, numbness, and weakness of limbs.Whether cancerous or not, they can also result in permanent nerve damage.

Diagnosis of a spinal tumor

A series of tests and scans can help establish whether or not the patient has a spinal tumor. These diagnostic procedures may include the following:

  • Spinal Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - radio magnetic waves produce imagery of bone tumors, spinal cord, and nerves.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) - A CT scan makes use of a narrow beam of radiation to generate detailed imaging of your spine.
  • Biopsy - Biopsy is the use of sample tissue of the spinal tumor used to study under a microscope to have a closer look and the results thereof can help determine the treatment needed.

Treatment of a spinal tumor

Before treatment commences, doctors take into account the patients' age as well as their health. Sometimes the complete removal of the tumor is the only way to treat it but in some cases removing the tumor could cause damage to the spinal cord or nerves. The location and type of tumor are very significant factors when it comes to treatment and removal.  

Treatment methods include: 

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) - computers are used to focus high beam radiation to the location of the tumor. SRS is limited to specific tumors and size thereof.
  • Chemotherapy - chemotherapy is often used to kill cancerous cells and sometimes it is used in conjunction with radiation therapy.
  • Medication - Corticosteroid medication is often prescribed to treat the swelling that occurs as a result of chemotherapy and radiation.

For spinal tumors that can be removed safely, meaning there is little chance of nerve damage, spinal tumor surgery is often the recommended treatment. Technology has made it possible, through the use of improved instruments and better techniques, to gain access to tumors that were once thought to be inoperable. High-powered microscopes enable surgeons to distinguish between healthy tissue and tumors using microsurgery, and they can also minimize the risk of nerve damage during surgery by using electrodes to test various nerves. In some cases, sound waves can be used to break tumors apart and remove them.   

Even with all the advances in technology and new techniques, not all tumors can be completely removed. When this is the case, radiation or chemotherapy may be used in addition to surgery.

Recovering from an operation on your spine may take several weeks, depending on what procedure was performed. Some side effects of spinal surgery include temporary numbness or loss of sensation, bleeding or nerve damage.

Alternative treatments include acupuncture to alleviate the pain associated with the spine tumor as well as prescribed medication and herbal remedies.

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Questions & Answers
Q:
What is the best way to treat permanent back and neck pain and stiffness?
A:

Here are some tips:

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep with a cervical pillow

Orthopedic or cervical pillows are made with special contours to support the space beneath the neck and head. They are also more concave for the head and provide more support to the neck.

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep on your back

The best position to lie to sleep is on your back. If you sleep on your stomach or on your side, make sure your pillow is not too thick. It should raise your head no more than 4 to 6 inches. This will keep your neck and head from turning to either side.

Neck Pain Tips: Position your computer screen at eye level

While you are working at a computer, sit comfortably in your chair with your computer in front of you. Close your eyes and then open them. When you open your eyes, you should see the middle of the computer screen. If your gaze is not in the middle of the screen, adjust the height of the screen using items like books.

To keep your head from gradually drifting forward, take frequent breaks to stretch. Getting up to walk around at least once every half-hour is one of the best neck pain tips.

Neck Pain Tips: Use a telephone headset

Never hold a phone between your shoulder and your ear. Use a headset or other hands-free system to talk on the phone and avoid abusing your neck and spine.

Neck Pain Tips: Exercise your neck muscles

One of the best neck pain tips is using the chin tuck. You can do this often throughout the day. In addition to helping strengthen the muscles that hold the head in alignment over the shoulders, it also helps strengthen the scalene and sub-occipital muscles.

Read more tips here: Neck Pain Tips: Sleeping, Posture, Exercising, Hydration & Prevention

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Temed Holdings
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Q:
What is the best treatment for neck pain and shoulder Pain?
A:

One of the best treatment for neck pain and shoulder pain is exercises:

Neck Pain Exercises: Neck Extension

  1. To begin this neck pain exercise, sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Looking straight ahead, tuck your chin slightly (starting position)
  3. Place the palm of your hand on the back of your neck, at the base of your head
  4. Apply slight forward pressure with your hand, while resisting the forward motion of your neck and head
  5. Hold for a count of 5 and return to the starting position and relax
  6. Repeat the neck pain exercises 5-10 times

Neck pain exercises: Side bend

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Looking straight ahead, tuck your chin slightly (starting position)
  3. Place your left hand, palm down, on the left side of your head (around your ear)
  4. Slightly push your head to the right side with your hand, while resisting the sideways motion of your neck and head
  5. Hold for a count of 5 and return to the starting position and relax.
  6. Repeat 5-10 times
  7. Repeat the neck pain exercises with the other side.

Neck pain exercises: Neck flexion

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Looking straight ahead, tuck your chin slightly (starting position)
  3. Place the tips of your fingers on your forehead
  4. Slightly push your head backward with your fingers, while resisting the backward motion of your neck and head
  5. Hold for a count of 5 and return to the starting position and relax.
  6. Repeat the neck pain exercises 5-10 times

More exercises here: Neck Pain Exercises

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Temed Holdings
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Q:
How do I reduce the shoulder and neck pain?
A:

Here are some tips:

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep with a cervical pillow

Orthopedic or cervical pillows are made with special contours to support the space beneath the neck and head. They are also more concave for the head and provide more support to the neck.

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep on your back

The best position to lie to sleep is on your back. If you sleep on your stomach or on your side, make sure your pillow is not too thick. It should raise your head no more than 4 to 6 inches. This will keep your neck and head from turning to either side.

Neck Pain Tips: Position your computer screen at eye level

While you are working at a computer, sit comfortably in your chair with your computer in front of you. Close your eyes and then open them. When you open your eyes, you should see the middle of the computer screen. If your gaze is not in the middle of the screen, adjust the height of the screen using items like books.

To keep your head from gradually drifting forward, take frequent breaks to stretch. Getting up to walk around at least once every half-hour is one of the best neck pain tips.

Neck Pain Tips: Carry weight evenly

Many people make the mistake of carrying a heavy briefcase or their purse on their shoulder or on one side of their body. Doing this causes strain in the muscles and leads to pain.

Remove non-essentials from your briefcase or purse. Consider using a backpack to evenly distribute the weight across your shoulders. If you choose to carry a purse or backpack, keep your shoulders level while carrying it.

Neck Pain Tips: Maintain a proper posture

The most common posture contributing to neck pain is the “head-and-shoulders-forward” posture. In this position, the neck slopes forward, putting the head in front of the shoulders.

In this position, the head pulls the upper back forward also in a slumped position. This places a strain on the entire spinal column.

More tips here: Neck Pain Tips: Sleeping, Posture, Exercising, Hydration & Prevention

Read more
Temed Holdings
4 answers