Our physiatrists can prescribe medication to relieve pain and other symptoms, such as bladder or bowel problems, that may be caused by a spinal cord tumor and treatments such as surgery or radiation therapy.
Our physiatrists may administer steroid injections, which reduce inflammation and temporarily relieve pain from muscle spasms that can occur after surgery or radiation therapy. Prescription pain medications can help control more severe or chronic pain caused by a spinal cord tumor for a limited amount of time. However, these medications can cause side effects, such as drowsiness and increasing tolerance, which may lead to dependence.
Botulinum toxin, also known as Botox®, is an injectable medication used to stop muscle contractions that can provide a temporary alternative to prescription pain medications. Botox inhibits the release of neurotransmitters, chemical messengers produced by nerve cells that transmit pain signals to the brain. Most people tolerate these injections, which may be given every 6 to 12 weeks.
Bethanechol is a medication that may be used in people who have nerve damage that prevents the bladder from emptying completely. This medication increases bladder muscle tone and contractions, easing urination.
Before prescribing this medication, our physiatrists collaborate with NYU Langone urologists, who perform urodynamic testing, which involves filling the bladder with saline and observing how well the bladder and sphincter muscles are working. These tests can help to determine the extent of the nerve damage caused by a spinal cord tumor.
For people with more severe or permanent nerve damage, bethanechol may be used in combination with intermittent catheterization, in which a thin, flexible tube is inserted into the urethra to drain urine from the bladder. Our rehabilitation specialists can teach you and any caregivers you may have how to perform this technique at home.
Laxatives and Enemas
Our doctors may prescribe laxatives, such as stool softeners, bulk-forming agents, and stimulant laxatives, to promote regular bowel movements after treatment for a spinal cord tumor. These medications can be taken by mouth or in suppository form. Doctors may also recommend enemas containing sodium phosphate and saline to periodically flush waste out of the intestines.