Schwannoma Neurilemoma

Schwannoma, also called neurilemoma, is a benign tumor that can arise from any nerve in the body, although it tends to favor certain nerves located in the head and neck along with nerves that are involved with flexing in the upper and lower extremities. The tumor is made up of Schwann cells that grow abnormally. Normally Schwann cells coat the axon of neurons (nerve cells).

These tumors are non-aggressive and easily treated. Originating in the nerve sheath, the membrane that covers the nerve, they are usually easily separated from the nerve in surgery without any disturbance to the nerve's function. They can occur in children but more commonly affect young adults.

What causes schwannoma?

The cause of schwannoma is unknown. These tumors sometimes occur in patients with von Recklinghausen disease (neurofibromatosis). 

What are the symptoms of schwannoma?

Patients with tumors that affect nerves close to the surface of the body will likely discover a mass sooner than those with a tumor that affects a deep-seated nerve, which may grow large before it is discovered. The following are the most common symptoms of schwannoma. Keep in mind that patients may experience symptoms differently, depending on the location of the tumor. Symptoms include:

  • painless or painful mass that is slow-growing
  • electric-like shock when affected area is felt (Tinel shock)

Usually there are no neurological problems or loss unless the tumor involves a major motor or sensory nerve or is compressed between the tumor and a rigid structure.

The symptoms of schwannoma may resemble those of other medical conditions. Always consult a physician for a diagnosis.