Hearing the term “spinal lesion” may suggest thoughts of cancer and tumors. However, a lesion is merely an abnormal change in tissues. While lesions may sometimes be caused by disease, some are caused by trauma and others develop because of an injury. When it comes to spine pain, lesions aren’t a common cause, but these abnormal tissue changes can sometimes contribute to discomfort. Here are some important facts to keep in mind in case spinal lesions are responsible for your spine-related pain.
Lesions Can Have Many Causes
Abnormal tissue changes sometimes occur because of cancers that typically affect the spine like osteosarcoma and osteochondroma, or the growth may be benign. Some abnormalities result in the formation of fluid sacs, while others develop from a serious infection such as syphilis or HIV. Lesions may form due to some type of repetitive or acute trauma or a spinal cord injury, and genetics may also play a role in the development of certain types of spinal lesions.
Symptoms Can Be Just as Varied as Other Spinal Conditions
Since spinal lesions can develop anywhere along the spine, symptoms can vary and sometimes mimic what’s experienced with other spine-related conditions, although symptoms are usually a bit “off” from what’s normally seen with common sources of spine pain. Depending on the size and location of the lesion, some patients may have issues with motor skills, while others may have chronic pain because of spinal growths. When symptoms do appear, the central nervous system is usually affected in some way. Signs and symptoms related to spinal lesions might also include:
- Weakness or pain in the shoulders and wrists
- Disruption of nerve pathways between the brain and face (Horner syndrome)
- Loss of bicep jerk reflexes
- Difficulty maintaining balance
All Lesions Need to Be Tested
Spinal lesions are classified by size and location. There is no way to tell if a lesion is cancerous or benign from observation alone, so a biopsy is often performed to test a tissue sample. If a growth is noncancerous and not causing severe symptoms or pain, watchful waiting may be recommended as an initial treatment option. Some patients also report improvements after making positive changes to diet and exercise habits.
Fusion Surgery Is Sometimes Recommended
If painful symptoms are being caused by a lesion, surgery may be necessary to remove the abnormal tissue. Some patients may only need to have the lesions removed. Additional surgery may be needed for other patients after a lesion is removed to restore stability of the spine if it was affected by the growth. In some cases, stabilizing a spine that was affected after a lesion was removed may require spinal fusion surgery. Beverly Hills patients should meet with a trusted local spine surgeon to determine an effective plan for treatment.
Lesions affect each patient differently. Being diagnosed with a lesion somewhere along your spine can certainly be overwhelming. However, early diagnosis can increase the odds of seeing positive results from treatment, even if tissues end up being cancerous. If you’re experiencing abnormal back pain that doesn’t have a likely source, or if you notice any unusual lumps, make sure to speak with your doctor or a minimally invasive spine surgeon. Beverly Hills patients can trust Dr. Hyun Bae at The Spine Institute to diagnose the source of their pain and help them find relief. Call our office today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an in-person evaluation.