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back and leg pain

i am 42 and just been told i have spina bifidia occulta and loss of cervical lordosis, can you tell me what this is, and is the reason for my pains in my back and pins and needles in my legs and feet, thank you
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514494 tn?1376514748

Thank you for your question. Spina Bifida Occulta (SBO) is a fairly common problem that occurs in as much as 20% of the population. It's an odd sounding phrase that translates to "hidden split spine." The most frequent form of SBO is considered to be what radiologists refer to as a "normal variant," and is quite harmless.

Your spinal column consists of 24 movable bones called vertebrae. These bones serve as protective armor. They encase your spinal cord to prevent damage. When the posterior aspect (the back) of one of these bones doesn't form completely, it's given the Spina Bifida title.

Think of it as a bridge with a very small section in middle that's missing. Or, if you’ve ever seen how the St. Louis Arch was built, they constructed it from both sides at the same time, starting at the bottom and working upwards, meeting in the middle at the very top. Imagine what the Arch would look like without the very top section in the middle – that’s kind of like SBO.  

Usually, the spinal cord and corresponding spinal nerves are not involved. Isolated bony Spina Bifida Occulta (without an underlying spinal cord abnormality) does not lead to problems with the nervous system. Some radiologists have eliminated the reference to Spina Bifida and started calling this situation a Vertebral Fusion Defect.

A much less common form of Spina Bifida Occulta can affect the spinal cord and have potential health consequences. Individuals with this form typically have a skin abnormality above the respective section of the spine, like a fatty lump, hairy patch, skin discoloration, or dark black-blue spots.

It would be helpful to know which spinal level has been identified with SBO - did your doctor inform you?

Cervical Lordosis refers to the curvature in your neck. Some things are better with curves; bananas and your neck are two of them! The average cervical lordosis is about 42-degrees. It's very important that it remains intact because it behaves like a spring, or shock absorber for the head.

The human head can weigh anywhere from 8-14 lbs, similar to a bowling ball. The forces of gravity are always trying to pull the head downward. With a healthy cervical curve, this won't be a problem. However, when the curve measurement decreases, the cervical spine begins to straighten. This changes the biomechanics of your spine, and makes other bones in your neck distribute these forces differently. Over time, this can lead to arthritic degeneration, disc thinning, osteophytes (spurring) and changes to the shape of your vertebral bones (similar to advanced tooth decay, but in the spine. Unlike teeth though, you only get one spine, and it can't be replaced!)

Since I have not examined you or seen your x-rays, I cannot tell you for sure that this is the definite cause of your back pain, but it’s certainly a possibility. As is true for the pins & needles sensation in your legs and feet; it could have a spinal origin.

Unfortunately, the SBO is there for good.

In many cases, however, Doctors of Chiropractic can improve the cervical curve fairly easily.

Best of luck, and I hope this has been helpful for you.

Warm wishes,
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