Back Pain – Can It Be Spine Cancer?

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Back Pain – Can It Be Spine Cancer?

June 14, 2021

It’s normal for people who suffer severe back pain to question if the pain could be an indication of spinal cancer. While the majority of back discomfort has nothing to do with cancer or tumors, it is feasible and vital to rule them out. This article outlines when a spinal tumor could cause back discomfort, how to acquire a precise diagnosis, and when to consider a spine specialist.


Spinal Tumors Come in a Variety of Shapes and Sizes

A spinal tumor is an abnormal development of cells in the spinal column. These tumors might be malignant (cancerous) or noncancerous (benign) (benign). A malignant tumor is made up of aberrant cells that divide uncontrollably and can spread through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.

There are two types of spinal tumors: benign and malignant.

  • Primary tumors are those that start in the spinal column. While the majority of initial tumors are benign, some are malignant.

  • Secondary tumors, also known as metastatic tumors, have moved from another section of the body to the spine. Metastatic tumors are malignant tumors that have spread throughout the body. Around 90% of identified spinal tumors have spread to other parts of the body. Extradural tumors are those that grow outside the spinal cord, intradural-extramedullary tumors are those that grow within the protective covering of the spinal cord, and intradural-extramedullary tumors are those that grow within the spinal cord.

How Does Spinal Cancer Pain Feel?

When a malignant spinal tumor causes back discomfort, it usually causes:

  • Starts slowly and gets worse over time

  • Doesn’t get better with rest and can get worse at night

  • Starts as a sharp pain in the lower or upper back that can spread to the legs, chest, or other parts of the body

Unplanned weight loss, fever, nausea, chills, or other worrying symptoms may also indicate the source of back discomfort from cancer pain.

Back Pain Caused by Spinal Cancer

Back discomfort can be caused by spinal column tumors that expand and/or weaken the bone, causing the vertebrae to fracture easily. It may also compress the spinal cord and the spinal nerve roots.

Additional factors, such as spinal instability, may play a role in back discomfort caused by spinal tumors.

When Should You See a Doctor?

When unexplained back discomfort persists after a few weeks, irrespective of care and rest, it’s usually time to see a spine specialist for a medical checkup. Back pain that hinders daily activities, or comes with symptoms like nausea or weight loss, should be evaluated by a doctor right away. Any new back pain in persons who have cancer or have had cancer in the past should be checked by a doctor immediately.

It’s also worth noting that back pain is rarely the result of cancer. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis from Oklahoma Pain Doc is the first step toward developing an effective back pain treatment plan.

**Disclaimer: This content should not be considered medical advice and does not imply a doctor-patient relationship.

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