There are several types of tethered spinal cord, which can vary based on the location and cause of the tethering. Here are some common types:
1. Spina Bifida Occulta: This is the mildest type of spina bifida, when the spinal cord is not completely contained inside the spinal canal. Although it often goes unnoticed and without treatment, it sometimes results in a tethered spinal cord.
2. Lipomyelomeningocele: When fatty tissue (lipoma) is linked to the spinal cord and drags it downward, this form of tethered spinal cord develops. When present at birth, lipomyelomeningocele is often accompanied by additional spinal anomalies.
3. Tethered Cord Syndrome: This is a general term that encompasses various conditions where the spinal cord is tethered due to abnormal attachments. It can be caused by scar tissue, tumors, spinal cord abnormalities, or previous surgeries.
4. Tethered Cord due to Tissue Adhesions: This form of tethered spinal cord occurs when the spinal cord becomes tethered due to adhesions or connections between the cord and surrounding tissues. These adhesions can result from trauma, inflammation, or infections.
5. Tethered Cord due to Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome: This type is characterized by the abnormal attachment of the spinal cord to the base of the spine or lower spinal canal. It is often associated with conditions such as spina bifida, spinal lipomas, or other congenital abnormalities.
The symptoms of a tethered spinal cord can vary depending on the severity and location of the tethering. Here are some common symptoms associated with this condition:
1. Back pain or stiffness: Individuals with a tethered spinal cord may experience chronic or intermittent pain in the lower back. The pain can range from mild discomfort to severe and debilitating.
2. Leg weakness or numbness: Tethering of the spinal cord can lead to compression or stretching of the nerves in the lower back, resulting in weakness or numbness in the legs. This may affect one or both legs and can impact mobility and coordination.
3. Problems with coordination and balance: Tethered spinal cord can interfere with the normal functioning of the spinal cord and nerves, leading to difficulties with coordination and balance. This can manifest as difficulty walking, clumsiness, or unsteady movements.
4. Changes in bowel or bladder function: The tethering of the spinal cord can disrupt the normal nerve signals that control bowel and bladder function. As a result, individuals may experience urinary or fecal incontinence, difficulty emptying the bladder or bowels, or an increased frequency of urination.
5. Scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine): Tethered spinal cord can cause abnormal tension on the spinal column, leading to the development of scoliosis. This is characterized by a sideways curvature of the spine, which can cause pain and affect posture.
6. Foot deformities or abnormalities: In some cases, tethered spinal cord can result in foot deformities or abnormalities, such as clubfoot or high arches. These foot abnormalities may affect gait and mobility.
In infants and young children, additional signs may include developmental delays, changes in leg or foot position, or skin abnormalities over the lower back area.