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Tethered Cord Syndrome


Tethered cord syndrome (TCS)

means your spinal cord is pulled down and tied (tethered) within your spinal column. The spinal cord normally moves freely within the spinal column. When it is tethered, it pulls during activity, causing pain and other problems. In adults, the cause is usually an injury to the spinal cord. It can also be a condition you were born with but did not know until you were an adult.

Vertebral Column

Common signs and symptoms include the following:

Any of the following may worsen as you get older, play sports, or during pregnancy:

  • Pain in your back that goes to your legs, hips, or genital area or is worse when you move
  • Trouble moving your legs or walking
  • Numb or weak legs
  • Trouble feeling something that touches your legs or feet
  • Trouble controlling your bladder or bowels

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You cannot move your legs.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe pain.
  • Your legs become so weak you cannot stand or walk.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have pain in between doses of your pain medicine.
  • You have new or worsening symptoms.
  • You have new or worsening trouble urinating or having a bowel movement.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


may include any of the following:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Surgery may be used to free your spinal cord. This may help with your pain or other symptoms. Surgery may also make cysts smaller, and prevent more cysts from forming.

Manage TCS:

  • Prevent falls. Move with care and stand up slowly. Wear shoes that support your feet, and do not go barefoot. Ask about walking aids, such as a cane or walker. You may want to install railings or nonslip pads in your home, especially in the bathroom. Ask for more information on how to prevent falls.
    Fall Prevention for Adults
  • Use the bathroom regularly if you have bladder or bowel control problems. Go to the bathroom at set times, such as every 2 hours, even if you do not feel the urge to go. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. You may need to limit the amount of liquid you drink to help control your urine leakage. Do not drink any liquid right before you go to bed. Limit or do not have drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol. Ask about the best foods to help you control bowel movements.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.