One of the most often overlooked conditions associated with cancer is spinal compression. Many patients do not fully understand the link between cancerous tumours and the spine; however, there is a strong link between both. If you are currently undergoing cancer treatment, read below to understand the link with spinal compression and how chiropractic treatment can help make your life more comfortable.
Which Cancer Patients Are Most at Risk?
Although all cancer patients are at risk of developing spinal cord compression, there are a few conditions that increase the chance of developing the condition:
- Your cancer began in the spine or is located near to the area.
- Your cancer has started to spread to your musculoskeletal system.
- You suffer from a form of cancer that has a high risk of spreading to the bones, such as breast or prostate cancer.
If you suffer from a particular type of cancer that increases your risk of spinal compression, your medical practitioner should make you aware of the dangers. They should outline the symptoms that are typical of the condition and give you advice on how to manage the condition. With that said, it's important that you keep an eye out for any symptoms that may be related to spinal compression, even if your doctor or nurse hasn't explicitly said so.
What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Cord Compression?
The symptoms of spinal compression are highly variable and depend on the specific location where the pressure is being felt. However, there are a number of common signs that patients report.
The most common symptom experienced by sufferers is a high level of discomfort or pain in the back. Typically, this is felt around the lower back region, as the spine no longer has the strength required to adequately support the upper body. As the condition progresses, other symptoms may develop. The most common of these include:
- A severe tenderness in the upper (cervical) or middle (thoracic) spine.
- Inability to sleep due to discomfort in the spine.
- Numbness or tingling in the arms and legs.
- Loss of bladder control or a weakened bowel.
- Increased pain when stretching or bending over.
Note that the above list is not exhaustive, and the specific symptoms experienced by cancer patients varies highly between cases. If you experience a symptom that may be related to spinal compression, make sure to seek immediate medical advice from a qualified practitioner.
How Can Spinal Compression Be Confirmed?
Although medical practitioners will be able to judge your condition accurately from your symptoms and current medical condition, it's important that this diagnosis is backed up by thorough testing. In most cases, this involves undergoing an MRI scan that highlights areas where your cancer is affecting the spine.
MRIs are very accurate procedures that are also able to highlight areas of the spine being held in compression. Once the specific areas are known, you will be able to focus on treating the region to alleviate your symptoms.
What Can I Do to Help My Condition?
The onset of spinal compression can occur rapidly, so it's imperative that you receive the medical support you need before the condition worsens. As such, you should contact your medical practitioner immediately in order to assess the extent of any structural damage.
Once you've discussed your condition with your doctor and had a full medical check-up, you will be able to pursue the best treatment options for your specific case of compression. Although natural treatments such as chiropractic and physiotherapy cannot address the problem of cancer, they can most definitely help in alleviating your spinal compression and allowing you to undergo treatment more comfortably.
Specifically, these treatments can help restore some range of motion to the affected area. This will help reduce your discomfort and will help you continue with your daily life. Chiropractors and physiotherapists are fully trained medical practitioners with an expertise in treating spinal conditions, so they will be able to manipulate your body in order to reduce pressure on the nerves.
Both forms of treatment are also non-intrusive treatments that can be carried out on patients of all ages and health conditions. Even if your cancer has rendered you physically unable to do practical things, chiropractors can adjust your body and help you achieve a better level of functionality. Additionally, chiropractic manipulations are extremely gentle, so you shouldn't be worried about exacerbating any existing discomfort.