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Born with spinal bifida. Had surgery. Have atrophy in leg. Have tethered spinal cord at L5. Solution for the problems?

Nov 2013
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I was born with .spinabifida. I am now 58 years old. I had surgery to close an opening at the base of my spine when I was 15 months old. I was fine, no symptoms until about 5 years ago. I have atrophy in my left leg of about 1 -1/2 inches smaller in the calf then my right leg, I limp on it as my heal cannot touch the floor, My left foot is now smaller then my right by approx. an inch in length. I have a tethered spinal cord at L5. There is no surgeon that will touch me. Is there anything I can do or anything I can take over the counter to slow down the problems this is causing? Is it possible to rebuild the lost muscle with excess exercise? What kind of spinabifida do I have, having had an opening at the bottom of my spine?
Posted Fri, 30 Aug 2013 in Brain and Spine
Answered by Dr. Sudhir Kumar 8 hours later
Thank you for posting your query.

Your findings are suggestive of spina bifida with tethered cord syndrome, which is a congenital anomaly, and is present since birth.
Manifestation usually occur in childhood with weakness of legs, numbness of legs and bladder symptoms.
Surgery is the best option, if done in early life.
As of now, if surgeons are not ready to operate, then, regular exercises and physiotherapy is the best option. It would prevent further worsening and may help in regaining some lost muscles.

I hope it helps.
Please get back if you require any additional information.

Best wishes,

Dr Sudhir Kumar MD (Internal Medicine), DM (Neurology) XXXXXXX Consultant Neurologist
Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad,
My personal URL on this website:
My email: YYYY@YYYY
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Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Born with spinal bifida. Had surgery. Have atrophy in leg. Have tethered spinal cord at L5. Solution for the problems? 53 minutes later
Thank you Dr. XXXXXXX

I would like to know what type of spinabifida I was born with. I know there are different types. With mine being an opening at the bottom of my spine at birth, what kind of spinabifida do I have? Will my foot continue to get smaller without surgery to correct the tethered cord? I also started within the last year having problems holding my bladder and bowels. I have made messes (bowels and bladder) without any advanced warning, no sensation that I had to go. Is this due to the tethered cord? Will this continue to worsen over time?
Answered by Dr. Sudhir Kumar 24 minutes later
Thank you for getting back with more details. Regarding your specific questions, the replies are below:

1. The exact type of spina bifida can be ascertained if I examine your back and if you can upload a copy of your MRI report. However, one thing is sure that it is not spina bifida occulta, as people with this type usually have no symptoms. So, in your case, it is either spina bifida with meningocele or spina bifida with myelomeningocele, depending on what was seen through the opening at your lower back.
2. The progression is maximum in early childhood, and rare in adulthood. I do not expect any significant worsening at this stage. So, your foot will not continue to get smaller.
3. Your bladder and bowel symptoms are most likely due to tethered cord, as the nerve fibres for bladder and bowel control arise from the lower spinal cord (sacral and lumbar regions).
4. As mentioned earlier, the worsening is uncommon at this age.

Best wishes,
Dr Sudhir Kumar MD DM (Neurology)
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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