The Doctors: Tethered Spinal Cord Causes & Surgical Results


The Drs: Spinal Cord Complications

Sometimes the cause of your pain might be surprising, and The Doctors’ next guest never would have thought that his shoulder pain was actually an indication of a spinal problem. Check out how one man learned that he has Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome, and find out why this condition is so rare in adults.

The Doctors: Tethered Cord Syndrome

While training to compete in an Iron Man athletic event, a patient reported “tingling, numbness and lower back pain.” In consultation with Dr Robert S. Bray Jr, he learned that the problem could be serious.


Tethered Cord Syndrome is an abnormality where the Spinal Cord extends farther down than normal, with a “persistent tail.” The patient learned that his spine is attached instead of floating in the spinal column, which is causing pain and could escalate into more serious medical concerns.

The Drs: Tethered Cord Syndrome Spinal Surgery Procedure

Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome: The Doctors

The Doctors explored the rare condition of Tethered Spinal Cord in adults & shared the surgical procedure that corrects this medical issue.

After learning this surprising news, Ken decided to pursue back surgery to repair his Tethered Cord Syndrome, so he could continue to enjoy his active lifestyle and recreational pursuits. In the operating room, The Doctors cameras got the blow by blow of another graphic surgery.


Dr Bray used a drill to remove the bone spur before addressing Ken’s Tethered Cord. Spinal surgery is delicate, and one part of the process involved releasing fluid that runs from the brain to the end of the spine.

Real surgery is pretty amazing, and it’s unbelievable to me that doctors know so much about every miniscule part of our bodies. Also, I doubt my hands would be steady enough to be responsible for not paralyzing someone during surgery. Everything went well for Ken’s procedure, as I’m sure he and his family were glad to learn.

The Doctors: Tethered Spinal Cord Surgery Results

Back in the studio, Ken reported that he was feeling great just one week after surgery. He was looking forward to getting active again, but still needed some time to fully recover. Dr Bray reported that Tethered Cord Syndrome in adults is rare, and has only been researched since the advent of MRI technology in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

What Causes Tethered Spinal Cord?

Dr Lisa Masterson said that Tethered Cord is more commonly discovered in children and is often associated with Spina Bifida. She explained how the spinal cord and central nervous system develop during pregnancy. “As a child develops, you go from a C curve to an S curve,” she said. “That’s why you want it free, because it has to move with the spine.”

A Tethered Spinal Cord pulls down, causing pressure or pain in the spinal column. It can be caused by Neural Tube defects during pregnancy, injuries or previous surgeries. Dr Lisa said that Folic Acid is key to preventing spinal cord complications during pregnancy.

Dr Bray said that tumors, defects or skin problems can often raise flags about this condition in children, but it’s generally harder to diagnose in adult patients like Ken.

The Doctors: Tethered Spinal Cord Surgery

Dr Travis Stork helped Dr Bray explain the surgery and the pressure that was putting on his anatomy. Releasing the end of the cord allows a patient’s Spinal Cord to instantly relocate to its natural free floating position. As for Ken, he’s expected to make a full recovery.


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