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Symptoms of Spinal Tumors

Symptoms of spinal tumors depend on the location and type of tumor. In general, symptoms of spinal tumors include:

  • Back pain
  • Unusual feelings in the legs, such as numbness or tingling
  • Problems with bowel or bladder control
  • Weakness in the muscles, especially the legs

Spinal Tumors Diagnosis

When you and your child visit our clinic for back pain, we will ask about warning signs of a serious problem in the spine:

  • How bad is the back pain? Has it lasted for more than two months? Is the pain getting worse instead of better?
  • Does the back pain wake your child up from a deep sleep?
  • Does the back pain cause funny feelings in her leg muscles? Has your child felt numbness, tingling or weakness in the legs?
  • Does the back pain disrupt bowel or bladder control?
  • Is the back pain happening along with severe weight loss or high fever?

As a first step, we will take X-rays of your child’s backbone. We will probably ask to take an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan too. Using these tests, doctors can identify most spinal tumors.

Your child may also need to have a biopsy. In this test, the doctor inserts a needle into your child’s back and takes a small sample of the tumor to look at under a microscope. This helps doctors figure out exactly what kind of tumor your child has. It can also help you and your child’s doctor develop a plan for treatment.

Getting pictures of your child's tumor is a very important both to diagnosis and treatment. Your child may have X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans (computer tomography) or PET scans (positron electron tomography) before and after treatment.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Understanding the Power and Influence of Role Models
  • Legal Marijuana Means Greater Poisoning Risks for Children
  • Why Choose Pediatric Emergency Care?

Download Summer 2014 (PDF)