A Patients' Guide to Spinal Tumors

Spinal instability; a possible complication

Spinal bones, such as the vertebral bodies and joints serve as places of attachment for intervertebral discs, ligaments, tendons and muscles. The bone, discs, and other soft tissues work in unison to allow movement and restrict harmful motion.

Comparing the spine to a chain, if a link is damaged, the strength of the chain is compromised. It becomes weak. As a comparative example, each vertebral body is part of the spine's chain. If a spinal tumor develops within or invades a vertebral body, it changes bone strength, and may cause the bone to become weak, collapse, or fracture (eg, vertebral compression fracture).
Senior man struggling to stand with the use of a caneBenign and malignant tumor development and growth can affect the strength, load-bearing ability, and stability of bony spinal anatomy. Vertebral body collapse and insufficiency fractures may occur.

  • Vertebral body collapse happens when the vertebral body weakens and crushes, causing the bone to be misshaped (eg, wedge-shaped).
  • Insufficiency fractures cause bone to break or rupture.
  • Fractures can develop in the posterior, middle, and/or anterior parts of the spinal column.

Spinal fractures are not only painful, but can cause spinal instability and/or severe neurologic dysfunction (eg, paralysis). Fractures of the spine require prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Updated on: 07/26/16
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Types of Spinal Tumors
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Types of Spinal Tumors

Types of spinal tumors include bone, vascular (blood vessels), cartilage, and plasma (white blood cells). Read on to learn more about benign and malignant spinal tumors.
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