Understanding the Effects That Cancer Has on Your Back Bones

Spinal metastases, or cancer of the spine, occur when cancer cells from another region of the body spread to the spinal column. The spinal cord, a packet of nerves that travel from the brain and down the back, controls movement and sensation in the body. The spine and spinal cord are surrounded by membranes, called meninges, and protective bones called vertebrae. When cancer from another area of the body spreads to the back, it can cause deep, aching back pain that increases in intensity at night. 

If the metastases invade beyond the bone of the vertebrae and into the spinal cord, or if the tumor-filled vertebrae collapse or fracture, cord compression can occur, causing weakness or paralysis in parts of the body such as the legs and arms, decreased or unusual sensations, or problems with bowel or bladder function. Speak with a spine specialist at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery for a comprehensive evaluation of your back pain and a customized treatment plan that is right for you. 

What Are the Different Classifications of Spinal Metastases? 

Medical professionals and spinal specialists classify spinal metastases, or spine cancer, based on the section of the spine the cancer is affecting, where it developed, and where it formed. The regions of the spine are separated as follows: 

  • Cervical spine: Neck 
  • Thoracic spine: Chest
  • Lumbar spine: Low back
  • Sacrum: Bottom of the spine 

The different types of spinal tumors include: 

  • Extradural: The tumor is seen on the vertebrae or bones of the spine, outside of the dura (a thin membrane covering the spinal cord). 
  • Extradural-extramedullary: The tumor is seen within the dura but not on the spinal cord. 
  • Intramedullary: A tumor that develops inside the spinal cord. 

Diagnosis of spinal metastases starts with a comprehensive examination to look for any signs of spinal cord compression. Imaging tests such as CT scans or MRIs are often used to visualize metastases. Biopsies are then performed to confirm tumor type. Consult a medical professional at OLSS for a complete examination of your unique spinal condition. 

What Symptoms Are Associated with Spinal Cancer?

There are some instances of patients who develop spine cancer and have little to no symptoms. As the tumor gets bigger and presses on the nerves surrounding the spinal cord, presses on the spinal cord, or if the tumor breaks down the bone in your spinal column, there may be a development of symptoms. Symptoms are dependent on the location and severity; they may include: 

  • Back and neck pain, worsening at night 
  • Decrease in sensation, such as cold, heat, and pain 
  • Deformity in the spine 
  • Bladder or bowel control issues 
  • Difficulty walking or balancing 
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness experienced in the limbs or chest
  • Paralysis 

If you have experienced any of these symptoms, it is essential that you speak to an experienced spine and back specialist at OLSS for an evaluation of your symptoms and a thorough physical and imaging examination of your back. The medical professionals at OLSS create a customized treatment plan for your specific needs. 

Speak with a Skilled Back and Spine Specialist at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery 

Spine and backbone cancer is treatable with surgical intervention, radiation, and chemotherapy, in addition to pain medications. Speak with a spine specialist at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery to meet with a spinal specialist who is eager to give you full support and lead the way to your recovery. 

At OLSS, we tailor treatments to fit the individual needs of our patients. Our customized treatment plans utilize conservative options first and are then built around your unique back and spine condition. We use state-of-the-art, minimally invasive techniques to ensure a faster, more efficient recovery. Call (855) 853-6542 to speak with a spinal specialist or fill out our contact form.