Symptoms Linked To Vertebral Tumors

A vertebral tumor is a kind of tumor that affects the vertebrae or bones of the spine. Vertebral tumors can be malignant or benign. Cancerous vertebral tumors can originate in the spinal bones themselves, or they may have metastasized from another malignancy in the body. Primary vertebral tumors form and grow from the disc or bone elements of the spine. The term vertebral tumor does not refer to tumors that develop within the spinal cord components. Common malignancies that occur in the vertebrae include osteoblastoma, osteosarcomas, and osteoid osteomas. Diagnostic medical imaging tests such as MRI and CT scans are used along with a biopsy to confirm a vertebral tumor diagnosis. Treatment for a vertebral tumor depends on whether it is malignant, primary or secondary, its degree of metastasis, the severity of symptoms, as well as the patient's age and overall health. Vertebral tumors are often overlooked because they present with symptoms similar to those of numerous other conditions.

Radiating Back Pain


As a vertebral tumor grows, the patient may experience what is described as radiating back pain as a symptom of their disease. Because a tumor is an abnormal tissue mass, it grows into spaces where it does not belong. The tumor can displace and put abnormal pressure on the spinal cord, blood vessels, spinal nerve roots, and other bones of the spine. Pain associated with a vertebral tumor often occurs in the patient's middle or lower back. This pain is not attributed to any physical activity, injury, or any stress. This pain often radiates or spreads past the patient's back and into the neck, hips, legs, feet, and arms. Depending on the exact location and size of the vertebral tumor, the pain it causes may be worse at night when the patient is in a horizontal position. They may feel pain due to a vertebral tumor as the result of spinal instability it has caused. Pain can occur when standing up or sitting down as a result of tumor-induced spinal instability.

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Loss Of Sensitivity To Temperature And Pain


Individuals who have a growing vertebral tumor often exhibit loss of sensitivity to temperature and pain as an indicator of their tumor. A tumor in the vertebrae can cause impairment or disruption in the nerve pathways that process, receive, and transmit signals from external stimuli. Nerves exit out of small holes on either side of a vertebra in pairs from the main spinal column. From those pairs, they continue to branch out like a web around the body. The sensory nerves are those that send signals to the brain about pain, touch, and temperature, where motor nerves send signals to the brain in regards to muscle movements. A vertebral tumor can grow out from any part of a vertebra including the foraminae or hole where the nerve exits the spinal column. A tumor can press down on peripheral nervous system branches and partially block the foraminae. This blockage stops the transmission of signals with information regarding pain and temperature from the area of stimuli to the brain. Because of the nerve arrangement of the spinal cord, the patient will lose these sensations in one or both hands and arms, or they may lose them in one or both feet and legs.

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Loss Of Bladder Function


The loss of bladder function is a symptom that may indicate an individual has developed a vertebral tumor. Various nerves and muscles have to function in tandem correctly to keep the urine in the individual's bladder until their body is ready to empty it. A vertebral tumor can compress, irritate, inflame, damage, or injure the spinal cord tissue itself or the spinal nerve roots in the lower vertebra. Any compression, inflammation, irritation, damage, or injury to nerve roots responsible for the transmission of signals to and from the pelvic muscles can result in a loss of normal bladder function. The affected individual may have limited or no voluntary control of the bladder muscle. They may experience involuntary urination, the inability to empty the bladder completely, inability to empty the bladder before it overfills and leaks, feel frequent and sudden urges to urinate, or may have a bladder unable to hold any amount of urine.

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Muscle Weakness


A common symptom in individuals who have a vertebral tumor is muscle weakness in the extremities. Muscle weakness occurs when a patient's full effort will not produce a healthy muscle movement or contraction. Voluntary contraction of muscles is typically generated when the brain transmits a signal through the spinal cord and the subsequent nerves to the target muscle. Disease, tissue damage, and illness can cause muscle weakness if it has an effect anywhere on the path of the muscles, nervous system, brain, or connections between them. A vertebral tumor would cause problems in the area of the spine where the spinal nerve roots branch out to the legs or the arms. Because the nerve roots branch out in pairs that include a motor nerve and a sensory nerve, muscle weakness is often accompanied by loss of sensation in the affected limb or limbs. When the tumor compresses the nerves to the legs, the patient can have trouble with standing and walking, putting them at an increased risk for falls.

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Some patients with an advanced vertebral tumor may experience paralysis as a symptom of their disease. Paralysis is best defined as the loss of control and strength over a group of muscles or muscle in the body. Unlike the other symptoms of muscle weakness and bladder control issues, paralysis is caused by a complete blockage of nerve signals from the brain to the affected muscle system or muscle. This blockage causes the patient to be unable to voluntarily move the muscles on their own at all. The patient may also not be able to feel anything the affected limb(s). This symptom can happen as a slow process due to the growing vertebral tumor, or it can happen suddenly when the tumor is manipulated in an abnormally. The paralysis may start off as an odd tingling sensation in the affected extremities, and it may progress to general muscle weakness and muscle cramping. After that, the patient progressively loses control of the muscle or muscle system altogether.


    Whitney Alexandra
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