10 Upper & Lower Spina Bifida Back Pain Causes & Relief Tips

Spina bifida (SB) is characterized by many unpleasant symptoms one of which is back pain. It can severely disturb the quality of life of those with it. Therefore it should be a priority to soothe or get rid of it. There are many ways and I have outlined 10 different ways to manage the pain; which are discussed below. I have given a few solutions for upper and lower back treatments.  [1].

1.   Postural modification

In this type of therapy, the patient is educated about postural conditions which are causing the back pain. The patient is advised to change how they sit or their lying position to alleviate the pain.  Change in posture alone causes a remarkable decrease in Spina Bifida back pain.

spina bifida back postural modification, spina bifida back pain

However to change your posture can be uncomfortable for adults or almost feel impossible to correct for children. But like all things, once it becomes a habit, it becomes much easier. Therefore, fixing their posture will alleviate their back pain and allow them to have a better quality of life. It is important to avoid the twitching of muscles and muscle spasms. The patient has to rehearse and adopt the changed postures in which he/she feels better. They will eventually get used to the advised posture [1,2] as they will feel the reduction of pain themselves.

2.   Psychological Support

Pain is a physical and emotional problem. The patient is provided with psychological support by the family or by health care providers. Psychiatric help is also beneficial as treatment. This therapy helps to relieve the anxiety of the patients. Thus, the patient is more relaxed and his or her fears are addressed. With familial support the degree of success of this therapy increases several times [1,2].

3.   Physiotherapy and Cranio-sacral Therapy

The main purpose of physiotherapy is to help the patient with their posture to alleviate back pain but also in the development of normal movements and muscle functions. Physiotherapy also helps to relieve muscle cramps which can be very painful. Physiotherapy in combination with cranio-sacral therapy (a form of alternative therapy body touch focusing on the synarthrodial  joints of the cranium) may help in relieving tightness in their muscles and also by balancing their hormone levels. Muscle stretching and muscle strengthening along with cranio-sacral therapy may help to normalize the body functions [1,2] while also fixing their posture and reducing back pain.


4.   Orthopedic Evaluation

The patient should be regularly evaluated by the orthopedic specialists. The main concern is those with SB have a regular evaluation of their bone and muscle development. If there is any problem it should be addressed immediately. Porous bones cause severe pain and this condition needs urgent diagnoses and treatment. Abnormal development of bone and muscle is also a possibility. If such condition (bone deformity) is diagnosed the probability of success is reduced [2] therefore visiting an specialists and doing various exercises or fixing their posture will help reduce their pain.

5.   Central Nervous System Evaluation

The central nervous system development should be examined and evaluated by the neurosurgeon. In case of any problem it should be dealt with immediately. For instance, in the case of hydrocephalus shunting it becomes inevitable. It is a surgical procedure in which a shunt is placed in the brain to drain excessive nutritional fluid (cerebrospinal fluid) from the brain. A common symptom of hydrocephalus is headache [2].

6.   Upper Spina Bifida Back Pain Management

Two factors causing upper Spina Bifida back pain can be posture and tension (in women, the weight of their breasts as well can negatively effect their posture). These factors determine the degree of pain.  However, back pain can also be caused by a shunt or rod which is poking through the skin. If the patient has a painful rod or shunt in back, it should be evaluated and fixed properly, so that complications can be avoided. If the causal factor is mechanical it can be relieved by physiotherapy. Pain can also be relieved by simple analgesia in most cases. Sometimes physiotherapy along with analgesia is needed [2].

7.   Lower Spina Bifida Back Pain Management

Lower back pain in Spina Bifida can be associated with factors such as tethered cord which becomes symptomatic and causes pain. There may be difficulty in walking and bladder problems as well. If these kinds of problems are found and diagnosed early, they can be corrected. The mainstay of treatment is to know the cause of the pain. If the cause is known, it can be corrected.

A yoga tutorial video created by an instructor as a request from a student with SB.

The lower back pain in spina bifda can also be due to muscle problems. This kind of pain needs postural modification. Once this sort of situation has developed it can only be treated by changing the sitting or standing posture [2].

8.   Analgesic Agents

Different types of analgesic drugs can be used in the treatment of Spina Bifida back pain. The analgesic agent is selected depending upon its efficacy, adverse effects and the severity of pain. In case of low to moderate level of pain simple analgesics are used (e.g., NSAIDs). In case of severe pain opioids are used. The analgesic can be used orally or intramuscularly or intravenously. For the most part, in low to moderate pain, the oral route is used. Oral analgesia takes some time to abolish pain. An intravenous route is used for quick relief of pain [3]. However there is a high risk of addiction so patients need to be aware of this.

9.   Surgical Interventions

The ultimate solution of the Spina Bifida pain is surgical intervention.  The patient may have to go through a lot of surgical procedures. The patient may need surgery for drainage of nutritional fluid (CSF) because of over production. The patient may need surgery for tethered cord or for some other deformity. These surgical procedures are complicated and the success ratio is low [1,4] however it can reduce their pain significantly.

10. Sleeping chips

If the patient is experiencing pain and lack of sleep they can look into using sleeping chips (CieAura holographic chips) which can be beneficial. These chips help the patient to have a peaceful sleep. These chips are placed upon the body of the patient where it hurts as well as on his/her temple at night. These are coded chips and contain information which vibrates with the body cells. This has an effect similar to the effect music has on the mind [4].

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  1. Cannone J. Spina bifida back pain [Internet]. [updated 2011 June 30; cited 2013 Sep 10). Available from: http://www.losethebackpain.com/back-pain/spina-bifida-back-pain.html.
  2. Kessler Institute For Rehabilitation [Internet]. [cited 2013 Sep 10). Available from: http://www.kessler-rehab.com/programs/outpatient-services/pain-management/Default.aspx.
  3. Quizlet world learns here [Internet]. [cited 2013 Sep 10]. Available from: http://quizlet.com/11246073/drug-list-analgesics-and-anti-inflammatory-drugs-flash-cards/.
  4. Chapman C. [Internet]. [cited 2013 Sep 10]. Available from: http://ezinearticles.com/


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About the Author: Peter Scott

Peter Scott is a medical writer that specializes in general health and medical research surrounding Spina Bifida and other disabilities. His 15 years of experience has seen his work published in Men's Health, Disability Horizons and New Mobility Magazine. He is currently traveling around the world working as a freelance writer.