These are tumours which arise outside the dura mater – the thick membrane which is the outermost of the 3 meninges that surround (and protect) the brain and spinal cord.

These are tumours which arise within the dura mater. They are of two kinds. Intramedullary: Inside the spinal cord itself

Extramedullary: Inside the dura but outside the spinal cord

Symptoms arise largely due to the compression of the spinal nerve and a weakening of the spinal vertebrae and spinal structure. It is hard to diagnose a spinal tumour because symptoms can be common with spinal degenerative diseases. Some symptoms are:

  • incontinence
  • decreased sensitivity in the buttocks
  • weakness of the lower extremities
  • rapid onset paralysis

There are various treatments ranging from steroids, radiotherapy and chemotherapy to minimally invasive surgery. Your doctor, spine surgeon and oncologist will advise you on the best course of action based on your prognosis.

Click here to read more about Minimally Invasive Surgery

A compression fracture involves the collapse of a vertebra as a result of either trauma or a weakening of the vertebra typically due to osteoporosis or osteogenesis imperfecta, lytic lesions from metastatic or primary tumors or infection.

Vertebral compression fractures are treated conservatively to begin with. However, in patients with large or multiple fractures with spinal cord compression or in patients with intractable pain not responding to conservative treatment surgery may be warranted. Surgery can vary from procedures known as vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty to surgical stabilisation with augmented screws.

Central Cord Syndrome (CCS) is an incomplete injury to the cervical cord resulting in more extensive motor weakness in the upper extremities than lower. This typically occurs from a hyperextension injury with pre-existent osteophytic (abnormal bony outgrowth) spurs, without damaging the vertebral column.

This is a fairly common cause of headache and involves the occipital nerves — two pairs of nerves originating near the second and third vertebra of the neck. Pain usually begins at the nape of the neck, spreading to the region behind the yes and eventually to back, front and side of the head.

Occipital neuralgia is a headache syndrome that can be either primary or secondary. The latter are associated with an underlying disease that may include tumour, trauma, infection, systemic disease or haemorrhage.

Some of the following can cause occipital neuralgia, but many cases can also be attributed to chronic neck tension or might simply be of unknown origin.

  • Osteoarthritis in the (upper) cervical spine
  • Trauma to the occipital nerves
  • Compression of the occipital nerves or C2 and/or C3 nerve roots from
  • degenerative cervical spine changes
  • Cervical disc disease
  • Tumors affecting the nerve roots of C2 and C3
  • Gout
  • Diabetes
  • Blood vessel inflammation
  • Infection

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