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Tethered Spinal Cord

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Symptoms of a Tethered Spinal Cord

Children with a tethered spinal cord can experience a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • low-back pain
  • leg pain
  • deformities of the leg, hip, and foot
  • problems or delays in walking
  • weakness and loss of sensation in the legs
  • scoliosis
  • incontinence

Symptoms may appear and increase gradually, and therefore may not be recognized until significant nerve problems appear. Some of these neurological deficits may be permanent. Symptoms can worsen during periods of rapid growth, as the tethered cord becomes more stretched. A lesion, skin discoloration, or hairy patch on the lower back may be an indication that a problem may exist below the skin.

Tethered cord is one of the conditions treated by the specialists at the Weill Cornell Chiari CARE program.

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Greenfield, Ph.D., M.D. 
Last reviewed/last updated: April 2021