Spinal Tumors Clinical Presentation

Updated: Apr 13, 2023
  • Author: Andrew A Sama, MD; Chief Editor: Jeffrey A Goldstein, MD  more...
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History and Physical Examination

The most common clinical presentation associated with all spine tumors is back pain that causes the patient to seek medical attention. Back pain is the most frequent symptom for patients with either benign or malignant neoplasms of the spine. Neurologic deficits secondary to compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots also can be part of the presentation.

The degree of neurologic compromise can range from slight weakness or an abnormal reflex to complete paraplegia, depending on the degree of encroachment. The loss of bowel or bladder continence can occur from neurologic compression or can be secondary to a local mass effect from a tumor in the sacrococcygeal region of the spine, as occurs in chordomas. Systemic or constitutional symptoms tend to be more common with malignant or metastatic disease than with benign lesions.