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A B C D E F G H I J K LM N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9
(A-Z listing includes diseases, conditions, tests and procedures)

Spinal Cysts

What are spinal cysts?

Ganglion and synovial cysts most commonly show up on the top of the wrist, but may also affect the feet or the spine. They are benign lumps caused by a build-up of fluid that in a tendon sheath or joint capsule.

What are the symptoms of spinal cysts?

Depending on the size and location of the cyst, symptoms may be similar to spinal stenosis, including:

  • Backache

  • Radicular ("pinched nerve") pain on one or both sides

  • Neurogenic claudication (pain or weakness due to compressed nerves)

  • Numbness

  • Difficulty moving

  • Diminished reflexes

  • Paralysis (very rare)

What are the risk factors for spinal cysts?

Spinal cysts are more common in people over 50, and more are being diagnosed due to improvements in imaging over the years.
The cause of spinal cysts is unknown, but doctors are exploring the possibility that they result from degeneration and instability of the spine in areas subjected to motion, particularly the lumbar region. Spinal cysts often show up with other degenerative conditions of the spine such as arthritis and disk disease.

Dr. Ali Bydon Performs A Spinal Synovial Cyst Resection

Johns Hopkins spinal surgeon, Ali Bydon, M.D., narrates and performs a spinal synovial cyst resection surgery.

Spinal Cyst Diagnosis

For a patient reporting symptoms, a doctor may recommend an X-ray to rule out other problems, but the cyst is usually found through magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. The cyst will clearly appear as bubble-like growth near a facet joint in the spine.

Knowing the cyst’s size and position will help the doctor develop a treatment plan.

Spinal Cyst Treatment

Conservative treatment may include rest, anti-inflammatory painkillers, steroid injections, and drainage. Though these approaches may temporarily relieve the symptoms, cysts may reform or refill, resulting in further discomfort.

Surgery is suggested for stubborn cysts that are causing you pain and impaired movement. There are several different surgical approaches to removing the cyst and preventing a recurrence.

Patients should discuss their options with their neurosurgical spine surgeon for guidance on what’s most likely to provide lasting relief.

Recent Studies

More Patient Input, Better Spine Outcomes

Not long ago, researchers measured spine surgery outcomes based on technical expertise, fusion rates, deformity correction and equipment failure. But that only told half the story, says health services researcher Richard Skolasky, an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and director of The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Spine Outcomes Research Center. “Patients,” he says, “are the experts in their own experience.

Read more

Survey Shows Spine Surgeons Need to Screen More Patients for Anxiety and Depression

In a report published in the Journal of Spinal Disorders and Techniques, a Johns Hopkins team says that only 10 percent of orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons follow professional guidelines that recommend routine psychological screenings of patients prior to major surgery for severe back and leg pain.

Read more

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