Normally the spinal cord moves freely up and down within the spinal canal. However, in spina bifida, the spinal cord is almost always tethered or stuck down at the site of the lesion, usually by scar tissue. This can cause stretching of the cord as the child grows, and restriction of the blood flow to the spinal cord.
Even though virtually everyone with spina bifida has a tethered cord, only a minority has any symptoms. For people who have no symptoms, the tethering is considered to be not significant and medical treatment for it is not required.
However, if there are symptoms, it may be necessary to have an operation to ‘detether’ the spinal cord.
Some of the symptoms are:
All of these symptoms can be from other causes, and it is important that a proper medical investigation is carried out.
Last Reviewed: 17 September 2007