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What is a Tarlov cyst?

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Quick Answer

Tarlov cysts are sacs of fluid that affect the nerves at the spinal base. They are also known as perineural cysts and rarely cause symptoms, which means they are not easily noticeable, notes Heathline. However, when the symptoms appear, they usually manifest in lower back pain and pain in the legs and buttocks.

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Full Answer

Tarlov cysts mostly occur in women, and their exact cause is unclear, according to Healthline. However, factors that may contribute to their growth may include trauma, such as falls, injuries and heavy exertion. Although Tarlov cysts often go undiagnosed due to the lack of symptoms, doctors may conduct imaging tests for cyst identification purposes when the cysts do cause symptoms. While magnetic resonance imaging tests show cysts, a computed topography, accompanied with spinal dye injection helps determine if the fluid in the cysts found in the sacrum comes from the spine.

Because most Tarlov cysts don't cause symptoms, only those that result in symptoms may necessitate treatment, reports Healthline. One possible treatment option is drainage of the cyst fluid, which usually alleviates symptoms within a short time. However, this treatment is not permanent because there is always a recurrence of fluid accumulation in the cysts. In case of severe, chronic pain and bladder problems, surgery to permanently remove the cysts may be necessary.

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