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Spine and Back Health

Spina bifida occulta

07/03/2008

Question:

I am a 25 year old male that has had chronic back pain that became noticable 10 yrs ago. I recently got insurance so I could see a doctor and found that I have spina bifida occulta in L5 and mild scoliosis. The pain pulsates from the lower back to the mid-shaft of both femurs. Is this likely to be the cause of my pain and if so how is it usually treated?

Answer:

Hello, thank you for your question. Spina bifida occulta (sbo) is not generally thought to be a cause of back or leg pain. It is most often discovered incidentally during the course of medical testing after an accident or injury, or during testing for people who have lower back pain. In some cases, the presence of sbo can lead to problems over the years, such as disc degeneration or lumbar stenosis, that can often cause back pain themselves, but the sbo itself doesn't. You should be sure that a thorough investigation is done, including an MRI and CT scan. The scoliosis could also play a role, but you need to get the other tests done and see a spine specialist. Good luck.

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Response by:

David J Hart, MD David J Hart, MD
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University