Could Undiagnosed Spina Bifida Be Causing Your Lower Back Pain?


Are you plagued by lower back pain? Have you switched to ergonomic furniture, taken over-the-counter pain medications, and bought a heating pad for your back, yet still can't seem to get any pain relief? If so, your back pain could be caused by an undiagnosed case of spina bifida. Read on to learn more.

What Is Spina Bifida?

Spina bifida is a spine defect that develops in utero. In a developing fetus, the vertebrae and membranes in the back should form around the neural tube and completely envelop it (the neural tube forms the brain and spinal cord). In those affected by spina bifida, however, the vertebrae or membranes do not fully develop, and total enclosure of the neural tube does not occur.

Wouldn't Spina Bifida Have Been Detected In Your Infancy?

Not necessarily. There are several different forms of spina bifida and some are far more serious than others. In those with the myelomeningocele form of spina bifida, the spine is extremely underdeveloped and a portion of the spinal cord is fully exposed and vulnerable. These cases are almost always detected either before a child is born or immediately after. Spina bifida occulta, however, is the mildest form of the disorder. People affected by spina bifida occulta have spines that have nearly closed around their spinal cord, but not quite. Generally, a small gap in the spine remains open but the spinal cord itself is unaffected. Because the spinal cord is not affected, few people with spinal bifida occulta experience symptoms and therefore are often not diagnosed until adulthood.

However, not all cases of spina bifida occulta are without symptoms. Many muscles that play a role in trunk stability, lumbar support, and posture attach to the spine. When these muscles are not properly attached due to a spinal defect, complications can arise. People with spina bifida occulta have reported a host of symptoms including involuntary urination, motor dysfunction, sensory dysfunction, and back pain.

How Do You Know If You Have Spina Bifida Occulta?

Roughly 5 percent of the population is affected by spina bifida occulta, and the only way to know for sure if you have it is to visit your doctor and ask for imaging tests to be performed. A quick x-ray of your back should pick up any gaps in your spine that might be causing your pain and/or discomfort. Outwardly, there is often little indication of the condition, but some people who are born with spina bifida occulta have tufts of hair, fatty deposits, skin discoloration, or a dimple on the skin covering their spinal defect.

What Are Your Treatment Options?

If you visit your doctor and learn that your back pain is being caused by spina bifida occulta, your treatment options will vary depending on the severity of your condition. Generally, surgery is reserved for cases of spina bifida where the spinal cord is involved and not recommended for the milder spina bifida occulta. However, by working with a chiropractor, you may be able to treat the symptoms of the condition by focusing on posture practices and exercises that take some of the stress off of the area of your spine where your defect is located. 

If you're plagued by lower back pain and you aren't sure what could be causing it, you might have a case of undiagnosed spina bifida occulta. Visit your primary care doctor for a diagnosis and, if there is no spinal cord involvement and surgery is not an option, ask for a referral to a chiropractor. Chiropractic care can help you build a plan for pain management that involves targeted exercises and posture control.


7 June 2016

Improving Your Back

After struggling with months and months with back pain, I could tell that things weren't getting any better with my DIY methods. I was tired of having trouble every time I needed to move, so I decided to start working with a chiropractor. When I arrived, the doctor worked really hard to diagnose my condition, and then he talked with me about treatments--letting me decide how to proceed. It made me feel really great about working with him, and within a few treatments my back was feeling a lot better. This blog is all about improving your back pain by talking with the right professionals.