Spina Bifida - Treatment Overview
A baby with severe spina bifida may need ongoing physical
therapy to keep joints and muscles flexible and to help strengthen the muscles by exercising the arms and legs. You
will be able to help your baby do many of these exercises at home.
Complications linked with spina bifida include:
- Skin infections if sensation to injury
is diminished. Prevent infections by daily examining your child's
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs) because it is hard to
empty the bladder. Clean intermittent catheterization (CIC) may be needed to
keep the bladder emptied. In some cases, the doctor will suggest surgery to
help treat or prevent urinary tract or kidney problems. Your child's doctor may
also prescribe antibiotics to help prevent UTIs or medicines to help with
- Constipation because of nerve injury affecting the
bowel. Be certain your child drinks enough water. Your doctor may recommend
that your child also take stool softeners.
- Latex allergy, which
is common in children who have spina bifida. Latex is a natural rubber product
that is used to make objects such as toys and health care supplies. Do not
allow your child to come into contact with items that contain latex.
- Problems with the shunt that may be used to drain excess fluid from the head.
Treatment if the condition gets worse
problems can occur with severe spina bifida and may get worse as the child
- Severe curvature of the spine-scoliosis or
kyphosis (hunchback)-may need to be corrected with
- Depending on the location of the nerve damage, walking may
become increasingly difficult, and the child may eventually require a
wheelchair for mobility.
Sometimes spina bifida causes people to have an abnormal
walking pattern (gait). It can lead to
arthritis of the hips or knees, and treatment may be
needed. For more information, see the topic Osteoarthritis.