Pain, tingling, or numbness in the legs and back can sometimes be due to a schwannoma, a spinal tumor. A schwannoma develops on the tissue that covers your spinal nerves (called the nerve sheath). 

The vast majority of schwannomas are noncancerous (benign). But they can still cause problems. As a schwannoma grows, it can put pressure on your spinal nerves, which causes pain in your legs and back, tingling, numbness or weakness.


To determine if you have a schwannoma, your doctor will test your reflexes, muscle strength and your ability to feel sensations on your skin. You may need an X-ray, CT or MRI scans. You may also need a biopsy to determine whether the tumor is cancerous.

Treatment Options

Schwannomas are often surgically removed, especially if they’re causing symptoms. During the procedure, your surgeon will carefully open the nerve and access the tumor. The nerve will be monitored using advanced intraoperative electrophysiological during surgery.

If your schwannoma is large, you may need radiation and chemotherapy. One option is stereotactic spine radiosurgery, such as CyberKnife®, which uses highly focused beams of radiation to destroy the tumor. This type of procedure doesn’t require an incision, which means less damage to normal tissue and no recovery time.

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When you have degenerative disc disease, the Aurora Back and Spine Program makes it easier for you to get back to the things that matter most. With a single entry point and your own care coordinator, you’ll be connected to an integrated team of specialists all working together on your personalized treatment plan. Learn more about our program locations in eastern Wisconsin:

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