There are many causes of spine disorders; some common, some rare. The causes may be grouped into broad categories as outlined below.
The links in the text below connect to information about specific spine conditions provided by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. This will give you useful background information and will help you to ask the right questions when you see us. To understand the basic way a spine is ‘built’ and to learn how it works, visit their website.
Many different types of ‘Cancer’ can affect the Spine. This includes Benign (non ‘spreading’) tumours, more common in children and young adults, Primary malignant (‘spreading’) tumours of the bones and tissues of the spine themselves (which are quite rare), and the largest group which are the Secondary tumours which are cancers which have spread to the bones of the spine that began somewhere else in the body e.g. breast cancer, prostate cancer, bowel cancer, lung cancer etc.
Secondary, or Metastatic tumours in the spine may cause pain, pressure on nerves, structural instability of the spine or be symptom free.
Their management is complex and often requires a broad range of techniques and medical specialists to be involved. Surgery when necessary is almost always aimed at providing stability to the Spine (Fixation) and at taking pressure off affected nerves (Decompression) as curing the patient of the cancer is unfortunately very rarely possible. This group of patients, particularly those with Multiple Myeloma, Lymphomas and Leukaemia, are often suitable for Percutaneous Spinal Procedures which may allow earlier mobilisation and discharge from hospital and resumption of other cancer treatments.