Tethering of the spinal cord is a condition in which the spinal cord becomes attached to the spinal column via surrounding structures. Normally, the spinal cord hangs loose in the canal, freely moving up and down with growth, bending and stretching.
A tethered cord does not move. It is pulled tightly at the end, reducing blood flow to spinal nerves and causing damage to the spinal cord from both the tretching and the decreased blood supply.
Tethering can happen before or after birth in children and adults; and most often occurs in the lower (lumbar) level of the spine. All forms of SB can be accompanied by spinal cord tethering; but it rarely occurs with Spina Bifida Occulta (SBO). In children, a tethered cord causes the spinal cord to stretch as the child grows.
In adults, the spinal cord will stretch during the course of normal activity which like bending and stretching. If a symptomatic tethered cord (tethered cord syndrome) is left untreated, it can lead to progressive, permanent spinal cord damage.
The good news is that tethered cord is a very treatable condition, especially when diagnosed and treated early in the child's life. Although medications, alternative therapies, rest, and physical therapy “may” provide temporary relief from pain, the only successful intervention is untethering surgery.
Though surgery might not be able to restore neurological function that has already been lost, children with this disorder can go on to live full and healthy lives with proper care and follow-ups.
Recovery in the hospital is generally about 2-5 days, and the patient often returns to normal activity within a few weeks.
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