Treatment for Nerve Schwannoma in New Jersey
Nerve schwannoma is a relatively minor tumor that occurs in the peripheral nerve. The most common tumor of its type to occur in adults, it can occur anywhere in the body, regardless of age. Although it initially presents as benign, it is a potentially chronic condition as it advances. Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine, and Orthopedics are a team of highly qualified medical professionals committed to helping residents of Northern New Jersey overcome devastating ailments such as nerve schwannoma.
What is Nerve Schwannoma?
The body’s nerves are protected by a layer of tissue called the nerve sheath. A schwannoma is a type of tumor or an abnormal tissue mass that grows in the nerve sheath. It develops from Schwann cells located in the cranial nerves or the peripheral nervous system.
Whereas schwannomas are usually benign (non-cancerous), they may sometimes be malignant (cancerous) in rare-case scenarios. If malignant, a schwannoma is also called soft tissue sarcoma. Even when non-cancerous, schwannomas are still a significant cause for concern, as they can lead to nerve damage or, worse, loss of muscle control.
What are the Symptoms of Nerve Schwannoma?
Schwannoma’s symptoms don’t usually emerge until the condition has grown large enough to stress the surrounding nerves. At this stage, occasional pain may be felt in the affected area, and may also be accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Muscle weakness
- Throbbing, aching, or burning pain
- A visible lump under the skin
- Numbness or tingling
- Dizziness and balance difficulty
- Loss of coordination
- Trouble moving the eye
- Nighttime neck or back pain
- A pins-and-needles sensation
- Ringing in the ears
- Hearing loss in one or both ears
- Trouble swallowing
- Facial paralysis
Schwannoma symptoms may vary depending on how big the tumor is, which may be felt in various parts such as the face, legs, arms, or torso.
What are the Risk Factors of Schwannomas?
Nerve schwannomas may not be the most dangerous condition, but there are elements of risk to consider. These include:
- They may turn out to be cancerous or malignant, though in rare-case scenarios.
- They may affect the nerves between the legs, causing pain and discomfort in the bladder and bowel.
- They may cause permanent nerve damage depending on their size or location. For instance, if the condition affects the nerve connecting the inner ear and the brain (vestibular schwannoma), it may cause permanent hearing loss.
- Severe nerve damage due to schwannoma may also weaken the immune system.
While a nerve schwannoma can affect people of all ages, males or females alike, though 20-50 years is usually the peak period range. And if a parent has a hereditary genetic condition causing schwannoma, the chances are that they can pass it to their children.
How is Schwannoma Diagnosed?
Diagnosing a nerve schwannoma can be difficult because it’s largely harmless, grows slowly, and its symptoms are similar to other conditions. The highly qualified neurosurgeons at CNSO apply the best procedures and processes to diagnose it accurately, which may involve asking about symptoms, assessing medical history, and performing a neurological exam. If a nerve schwannoma is suspected, the CNSO team may conduct the following diagnostic tests:
- Tumor Biopsy – This test checks if the tumor has schwannoma. It involves taking a sample from the tumor with a needle and studying its cells under the microscope, as well as conducting other tests to establish the kind of tumor it is.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (RMI) – This medical scanning technique leverages radio waves and a magnet to generate 3D images of the nerves and the surrounding tissues.
- Nerve Biopsy – If there are enlarged nerves that mimic a tumor, nerve biopsies involve removing a piece of nerve from the affected area and inspecting it under a microscope.
- Electromyogram (EMG) – Here, tiny needles are placed in the muscles and use an electromyography instrument to record and assess the electrical activities on muscles as they move.
- Computerized Tomography (CT). This test involves using a CT scanner to produce internal images of the affected area. The images are used to view and evaluate the tumor.
- Balancing and hearing tests may be conducted if the schwannoma affects the inner ear.
What Treatment Options are Available for Schwannoma?
The type of treatment suitable for schwannoma depends on where the tumor is located, how quickly it’s growing, and whether it causes pain. Here are the typical treatment options available:
- Monitoring – If the tumor is small and doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort, the doctor may suggest observing the condition to watch for any growth signs or changes. In that regard, the patient may be scheduled for regular checkups, and MRI or CT scans for accurate results.
- Surgery – If the schwannoma continues growing or causes excruciating pain in the affected area, surgery is the best option for removing the tumor. A qualified surgeon can perform the process under general anesthesia and without damaging the surrounding nerves. Generally, the recovery time varies depending on the tumor’s location and size; some patients may go home the same day of the surgery, while others may need to stay in the hospital for a day or two.
- Radiation Therapy – Potentially integrated with the surgical procedure, this therapy works to control tumor growth and suppress its symptoms.
- Stereotactic Radiosurgery – If the tumor is malignant, located near critical nerves and blood vessels, or there are other conditions that make surgery dangerous, the physician may suggest stereotactic body therapy, which uses radiation to kill the tumor (surgery without incision). This type of surgery limits damage to healthy tissues and nerves.
Access the Best Treatment for Schwannoma at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics in New Jersey
The dedicated and caring team at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics includes recognized board-certified neurosurgeons, pain management doctors, physiatrists, and rehabilitation specialists working together to create a comprehensive and customized care plan for each patient suffering with symptoms related to Schwannoma.
Contact the competent, reliable, and compassionate team at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine, and Orthopedics today at one of six convenient New Jersey locations in Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Morris, and Hudson counties.