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What is a spinal cyst?

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Quick Answer

A synovial cyst on the spine is a benign sac that has filled with fluid. These develop in the lumbar spine's facet joints after degeneration has set in. If these cysts grow large enough, they can lead to spinal stenosis, notes The American Center for Spine and Neurosurgery.

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Full Answer

Symptoms of a spinal cyst include numbness, pain or weakness from the back down into the legs. If this problem becomes severe, incontinence in the bladder and bowel, as well as a loss of coordination, can all occur, as stated by The American Center for Spine and Neurosurgery.

Spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the canal in the spine. This narrowing adds pressure to nerves in the spine, making the lower back hurt when the patient stands or walks. The synovium is a thin layer of tissue that creates fluid for lubricating the body's joints. When the lumbar spine's facet joints start deteriorating, this fluid can start to build up to sheild the joint. Within some patients, very small fluid amounts escape the joint capsule but stay inside the synovium, making a cyst. Treatments involve various types of medications designed to manage the pain, along with physical therapy, unless the case is severe enough to merit surgery, according to The American Center for Spine and Neurosurgery.

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