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Spinal Cysts

What is a Spinal Cyst?

Cysts are fluid-filled sacs they can develop anywhere on the body but when they develop near the spine it can lead to various painful and potentially serious conditions. Most spinal cysts develop in the sacral area around the tailbone.

What Can Cause a Spinal Cyst?

Cysts develop for several reasons. Some people have cysts from birth and others are caused by aging or other degenerative processes. In the case of synovial cysts, the condition may develop because of the body producing more fluid in the joint to compensate for degeneration.

Spinal Cyst Symptoms

A patient with a spinal cyst may not have any symptoms if the cyst remains small and stable. If, however, the cyst grows to a significant size and/or presses on nearby nerves, it can cause symptoms that include pain, leg weakness, and loss of bladder or bowel control. Spinal cysts tend to cause pain when a person is still for long periods of time or assumes certain positions. Many patients can reduce the severity of symptoms by frequently changing positions and moving around more often.

Types of Spinal Cysts

There are several different types of cysts that can form within the spinal cord.

  • Synovial
  • Arachnoid
  • Tarlov
  • Ganglion
  • Intradiscal

What Are the Treatment Options for Spinal Cysts?

Spinal cysts that are not growing quickly or causing symptoms may not require treatment. Dr. Federico P. Girardi will continuously monitor the cyst for any changes in development. Some patients with mild symptoms find that changing positions and moving around more often helps but can still seek treatment. Dr. Girardi may recommend steroid injections to reduce inflammation and discomfort as the first course of treatment.

If the spinal cyst is causing moderate to severe pain or growing quickly, Dr. Girardi may recommend surgery. The goal of the procedure is to drain or remove the cyst. In some cases, Dr. Girardi may recommend spinal fusion surgery. This is common when there is a likelihood of new cysts developing within the spinal cord.

At a Glance

Dr. Federico Girardi MD

  • Triple fellowship-trained spinal surgeon
  • Performs over 400 spinal surgeries per year
  • Professor of orthopedic surgery at Cornell University
  • Learn more

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