health, personal

Tarlov Cysts: Beginning of a Journey

It has been a long while since I last wrote a post here. I was busy with getting back to the academe as a part-time college instructor, teaching subjects such as Digital Imaging and Color Management, Maya Rendering, and Vector Graphics. I am also a home-based blogger and a mom to a three-year old. Oh yeah, I am also writing my thesis proposal and thesis samples for my MFA in Creative Writing course.

For the past few months, I busied myself with house-hunting, preparations for my son’s fourth birthday, lesson plans, MFA thesis, blogging, and the usual household concerns (bills, grocery shopping, organization, and the like). It took some really intense back pains for me to realize that there should also be some time to slow down.

All this April, I have been suffering from moderate to severe back pains and sciatica. The worst pain can only be described as the bones in my sacral region being crushed every time I get up or sit down. There is also a shooting pain from my right buttock to the back of my right knee. I immediately suspected a herniated disc.

(image courtesy of

tarlov cysts

I went to an orthopedic surgeon on the 6th of April to get checked. She suspected that a pinched nerve is causing the sciatica. She ordered an MRI. I was scheduled on the 15th at UST Hospital. The MRI showed that I have two protruding discs, a degenerative scoliosis, and two 2.0cmx3.0cmx4.0cm Tarlov cysts on my lower spinal cord. Supposedly, the location of the cysts has very few nerves, according to the Manila Doctors’ neurosurgeon I was referred to by the orthopedic surgeon. She ordered a nerve test, which turned out normal I believe, but I will be getting my official results tomorrow. On Saturday, I will be seeing the neurosurgeon yet again.

The neurosurgeon wants me to go through conservative measures first: physical therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs. She said that she was able to successfully treat a patient with bigger cysts this way. I do want to ask her the following questions on Saturday:

– Do my cysts have potential to grow bigger?

– The cysts are now eroding my bones. What does this mean for me in the future?

– Will the cysts affect or add to pain during future pregnancies? I am 31 years old with only one child, after all.

– How much is surgery?

– How much time will it take for me to recover?

– Will the surgery benefits outweigh the risks?

Tarlov cysts, apparently, are rare. Even in the United States and Canada, some neurosurgeons are still not quite sure how to deal with them. People all around the world then have to endure all the pain associated with the cysts. These cysts, after all, are sitting near a bunch of nerves. The doctors I have seen are not that sure if the cysts are the cause of my pain. Then, why is the pain I am feeling consistent to the symptoms associated with Tarlov cysts pain?


8 thoughts on “Tarlov Cysts: Beginning of a Journey

  1. Hi po. Your posts are very informative. My mom has just been diagnosed of having tarlov cyst as well from her latest MRI. 😦 She’s 64 and has been suffering from back aches. I was wondering if you could give me your doctor’s contact number. My mom’s doctor kasi doesnt know much about tarlov cyst and doesnt seem to know how we should proceed. Your help would be very much appreciated. Thanks.

    • Hi I am so sorry about the very late reply. I have been very busy with work, grad school and my family. How is your mom? My doctor also does not have much experience about tarlov cysts, I think. I will be going through my third MRI in August. Please keep in touch. I will try to update the blog more frequently now, especially on updates about the cyst.

      • Thanks for the reply, sis. I think she’s ok naman. Still complains about back aches every now and then. Did you get physical therapy? Does it work? What are you doing now to help with the tarlov cyst? Nagpa-PT na kasi si mama before and sabi nya wala naman daw effect sakanya. Pero I read somewhere na supposedly it works daw.

  2. Mary Machin says:

    I have three of them. It caused pelvic prolapse and I had miscarriages. Check out Dr. Frank Fagenbaum in Dallas Texas. He specializes in this and uses a microscope to do the surgery. Do not let someone who is not specialized or has not done these surgeries hundreds of times do the surgery!

  3. I am from ireland and I have a copy disc of my mri scan of pelvis. There is a tarlov cyst on my lower spine and the radiographer and/or my doctor have yet to mention it as significant. I shall be pursuing this after reading your story. Thank you! says:

    I am from Ireland and attampting to read my copy mri disc of pelvis. I have noticed a tarlov cyst on lower spine.The radiographer and my doctor have yet to mention it as significant. Thanks to your post I shall now raise the issue as it would explain a lot about my long term chronic/acute illness.


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