Brain, Nervous System and Mental Conditions

Tethered Spinal Cord Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Tethered Spinal Cord

Children may have several symptoms of tethered spinal cord, including:

  • Low back or leg pain
  • Increasing deformities in the feet or spine
  • Increasing weakness in the legs
  • An abnormal curve in the spine (scoliosis)
  • Increasing loss of bladder or bowel control, or new bladder infections
  • In a child with an unknown tethered cord, abnormalities on the back such as a fatty mass, dimple, birthmark, tuft of hair or anorectal malformations. If a tethered spinal cord isn't repaired, it can cause nerve damage. Because the surrounding blood vessels are often fixed down, the spinal cord does not get enough blood. This causes nerve damage.

Tethered Spinal Cord Diagnosis

The doctor examines your child, looking for the signs and symptoms of a tethered spinal cord. Your child most likely also will have an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). This test will help the doctor see inside your child's body and assess their condition.