Every year, nearly 25,000 people will develop a brain or spinal tumor, according to the American Cancer Society. While the chances of developing a spinal tumor are low, they can cause significant pain and discomfort. And understanding different types of spinal tumors can help you identify early development for faster and more effective relief. 

What is a Spinal Tumor?

A spinal tumor is an abnormal growth located on the spine or inside the spinal cavity. Spinal tumors are classified as primary, meaning their development started in the spine or spinal cord, or secondary, which is one the tumor results from cancer that started somewhere else in the body. 

Types of Spinal Tumors

Often spinal tumors are categorized by their location within the spine. There are three main types of spinal tumors. 


An intradural-extramedullary spinal tumor grows within the spinal canal, but it is not on the spinal cord. In most cases, intradural-extramedullary tumors are noncancerous and grow slowly. Common types of intradural-extramedullary tumors include meningioma and nerve sheath tumors. 

  • Meningioma- Meningioma is a tumor that grows in the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. These tumors are slow-growing and may not cause symptoms for a long time. Meningiomas may cause changes in vision, headaches, hearing loss, memory loss, loss of smell, seizures, or weakness in the arms and legs. It's unclear what causes meningioma, but it's more common in women and those who have received radiation treatment or have an inherited nervous system disorder.  
  • Nerve Sheath Tumors- Nerve sheath tumors grow within the nerve sheath, which is a layer of insulation surrounding nerve fibers. The tumor grows slowly and may not cause symptoms, although some people experience pain, numbness, tingling, or a burning sensation as they grow and press against the spinal cord. Some nerve sheath tumors are caused by genetic conditions such as NF1, NF2, and schwannomatosis, although they can develop in people without genetic conditions. 


An intramedullary tumor grows within the spinal cord. These types of tumors are typically primary and often noncancerous. Common types of intramedullary tumors include astrocytomas and ependymomas. 

  • Astrocytomas- Astrocytoma is a cancerous tumor that develops in the spinal cord or the brain. It's slow-growing but often aggressive and can cause weakness in the area it's growing. 
  • Ependymomas- Like astrocytomas, ependymomas can also develop on the spinal cord or in the brain and cause weakness in the area of the tumor. This type of tumor is most common in children, but it can develop at any age. 


An extradural tumor develops outside the spinal canal. These tumors are often secondary tumors caused by the spread of cancer from another part of the body. A common extradural spinal tumor includes osteoid osteoma.

  • Osteoid Osteoma- Osteoid osteoma is a small, noncancerous tumor that develops in the bone. People with osteoid osteoma tend to experience a dull aching pain surrounding the location of the tumor. Depending on its site, osteoid osteoma may cause muscle spasms or scoliosis if left untreated. 

Spinal Tumor Treatment 

Spinal tumor treatment depends on the location and type of tumor. In most cases, surgery is suggested by doctors to remove the tumor. If the tumor is cancerous, doctors may recommend additional treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, to kill the cancer cells.  

If you have a spinal tumor and are ready for treatment, the team at Mocek Spine Clinic can help. We offer advanced spine care solutions through patient-centered care. Our purpose is to provide compassionate care designed to allow you to live your life in the least amount of pain. Through our minimally invasive spinal treatments, you're expected to heal more quickly so you can go back to living your life. 

To learn more, you can make an appointment at our clinic or give us a call at 501.224.4001.