Tarlov cysts


If you are concerned about symptoms or have been diagnosed with Tarlov cysts, HCA UK’s experts can help

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Tarlov cysts are a rare condition and occur at the base of the spine in an area called the sacrum, around spinal root nerve fibres. The cysts are abnormal sacs of spinal fluid. They are more likely to occur in women than in men.

Need to know

In most cases, Tarlov cysts do not present any symptoms. However, if they are related to nerve root compression, they may cause:

  • pain in the lower back or surrounding areas
  • weakness or cramping in the legs, feet and buttocks
  • tingling or sciatic pain
  • headaches
  • pain when coughing or sneezing
  • bowel or bladder problems
  • sexual dysfunction

Your consultant will carry out a physical examination before recommending tests which may include:

  • MRI scan
  • CT scan

The scans will enable your consultant to get a more detailed picture of your spine and surrounding tissue.

Treatment could consist of pain relief or corticosteroid injections to alleviate any discomfort. Other options might include:

  • aspiration of the cysts, where the cyst is drained of fluid
  • surgery, to remove the cysts completely
  • TENS or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, where electrical impulses are delivered to the skin

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.