Tethered cord syndrome occurs when the spinal cord becomes attached or tethered to the spinal column itself. This tethering can cause pain, make it difficult to walk, and negatively impact the nerves in the spine. When symptoms are severe, spinal surgery is the only option to correct the condition.
Causes of a Tethered Spinal Cord
A tethered cord is a condition in which the spinal cord attaches to the tissues surrounding the spine in an unusual way. Normally the spinal cord floats in the center of the spinal column, surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid. With tethered cord syndrome, the spinal cord becomes tethered to the spinal column, restricting movement. Some cases of tethered cord syndrome are congenital, while others do not develop until childhood or adulthood. Tethered cord syndrome patients may experience mobility issues, pain, and possibly nerve damage. Symptoms of a tethered cord may include any of the following signs:
- Back and leg pain
- Tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness in the lower body
- Trouble standing or walking
- Tumors, swelling, or discoloration in the lower back
- Bladder or bowel control issues
The earlier a tethered cord is detected, the better the chances of a successful treatment and recovery. Make an appointment with a spine specialist right away if you recognize any of these symptoms.
Treating a Tethered Spinal Cord
Conservative treatments can be used to mitigate the symptoms and reduce pain from a tethered cord, but the only treatment that truly fixes a tethered spinal cord is a surgical procedure called tethered cord release. The procedure is minimally invasive and involves detaching or untethering the spinal cord from the spinal column to allow movement and decrease back pain.
Tethered Cord Release Surgery in Minnesota
Tethered cord syndrome can be difficult to identify, and is overlooked in many patients as a result. If you notice any tethered cord symptoms in yourself or your child, make an appointment with a neurosurgeon. My pediatric neurosurgery fellowship has specifically trained me on tethered cord pathology. I have successfully performed numerous tethered cord releases. Give me a call today to talk about your options for treating tethered cord syndrome.