The spinal canal is relatively narrow and has limited space. Thus even small intraspinal tumors can give rise to serious symptoms in the form of:
- local spinal column pain (back pain or neck pain).
- radiculopathy (pain radiating downward to the arms or legs that can be associated with reduced sensitivity and loss of power).
- myelopathy (difficulty walking, motor-skill problems and reduced sensitivity in the lower extremities. Problems with urinating/emptying the bowels can also be present).
- cauda equina syndrome (bladder and rectal paresis, impaired sexual function and reduced sensitivity in the perineal area).
- metastatic epidural spinal cord compression (loss of power and loss of sensitivity below the level where the tumor pushes against the spinal cord).
Metastatic Epidural Spinal Cord Compression (MESCC) caused by extradural intraspinal metastases from primary tumors outside the central nervous system occur frequently, often on multiple spinal levels. Metastases will often compress the spinal cord or its terminal, and can thereby cause cauda equina syndrome and/or incomplete or complete spinal cord injury with paralysis and loss of sensitivity distal to the level of compression. Patients with MESCC require immediate examination and treatment with radiation therapy and/or surgery to prevent permanent neurological impairment.