What Are the Symptoms of Tarlov Cysts?

The symptoms of Tarlov cysts include pain, numbness, incontinence, impotency and sometimes leg weakness, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders. However, patients with Tarlov cysts often do not experience any symptoms. Tarlov cysts can sometimes be referred to as perineural cysts. The exact cause of these cysts is not yet known, notes Healthline.

Larger Tarlov cysts are more likely to cause symptoms, as the National Organization for Rare Disorders explains. As the cysts grow, they compress or damage nearby nerves, which can lead to chronic pain.

Symptoms also depend on the location of the cyst, as the National Organization for Rare Disorders indicates. Tarlov cysts on the upper spine may create pain in the arms, neck and upper back. Those located in the lower part of the spine can affect the buttocks, lower back and legs.

The nerve damage associated with Tarlov cysts can create a variety of symptoms, including loss of skin sensation, diminished reflexes, impotence and leg weakness, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders. The condition can also affect bladder and bowel function, causing incontinence, constipation and trouble emptying the bladder.

Some patients report tingling or prickling sensations in the legs and feet that are associated with nerve damage. Others report pain in the testicles, vulva, rectum and abdomen, as stated by the National Association for Rare Disorders. Occasionally patients also experience blurred vision, chronic headaches and ankle weakness.

Tarlov cysts rarely cause symptoms, which is why in most cases they are never diagnosed. However, in cases that produce symptoms, doctors use imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography to ascertain the condition. In a majority of cases these cysts do not need any treatment. The cysts may develop in more than one part of the spine, notes the Tarlov Cyst Disease Foundation.