Q: My son is an outstanding athlete but has chronic back pain. Can he be helped?

A: Back pain should always be assessed to rule out a serious problem. This is best done by an MRI. If there is no spinal cord involvement, or treatable spinal problem, you should work with a physical therapist and trainer on back strengthening exercises, proper stretching, and warm up exercises. If the pain persists, consider visiting a sports medicine specialist. For more information, review SBA’s health information sheet on pain.

Q: Are alternative modalities helpful?

A: Chiropractic manipulation and medical massage has been used by people with Spina Bifida, but there is no available information reporting benefits with pain and bladder function. You should let your physician know that you are receiving alternative therapies.

Please inform the treating clinician of the following issues:

  • If there is a shunt, be careful with the tubing.
  • The Chiari II malformation means that the cerebellum is down into the upper part of the cervical spine and may also be sensitive to rapid head twists.
  • The lower spine is not completely fused and therefore not as strong as an intact spine.
  • The area under the myelomeningocele repair site may be pressure sensitive and contain a pseudomeningocele (fluid filled sac) which should not be pressed on with significant force.
  • The bones in the lower extremities may be thinned (osteopenia).
  • The hips may be displaced (particularly if the Spina Bifida is high lumber or thoracic level).

For more information, review SBA’s health information sheet on pain.