Spina bifida is a condition that affects the neural tube and can lead to severe physical and mental consequences. It is a congenital malformation that can occur during the first 28 days of pregnancy and affects the bones of the spine, brain, and spinal cord. Although it is incurable, treatment for those affected by spina bifida can improve their quality of life and help them manage their symptoms. In this article, we will examine the three types of spina bifida – myelomeningocele, meningocele, and occulta – in depth as well as their treatments.


Myelomeningocele is the most serious form of spina bifida and is the most commonly diagnosed. It occurs when the spinal cord and its surrounding membranes, or meninges, protrude through the openings of one or more of the vertebrae of the spinal column. With this type of spina bifida, the nerves in the spinal cord are left exposed, thus leading to a disruption in normal nerve functioning. This can cause a wide range of physical impairments and disabilities, which vary depending on the location, size, and severity of the neural tube defect. Myelomeningocele may cause physical disabilities such as hydrocephalus, paraplegia, incontinence, muscular weakness and stiffness, foot deformities, sensory impairments, and skeletal malformations.


Treatment for myelomeningocele generally involves surgical intervention to close the spinal defect and protect the exposed spinal tissue. Medication is also used to help manage symptoms, such as pain and spasticity, as well as to prevent infection. Physical, occupational, and speech therapy may also be recommended to help individuals with myelomeningocele adjust to life with their physical impairments.

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Meningocele is a less severe form of spina bifida that occurs when the membranes around the spinal cord, or meninges, protrude through an opening in the vertebrae of the spine, but the spinal cord itself does not protrude. Unlike myelomeningocele, meningocele does not affect the functionality of the spinal cord, but the condition is still serious and treatment is still recommended. Meningocele can cause physical conditions such as cystic lesions, curvature of the spine, and bowlegs.


Treatment for meningocele usually involves surgery to reduce the pressure caused by the protrusions, as well as to help reduce the chance of infection. Medication may also be prescribed to help manage any symptoms. Physical, occupational, and speech therapy may also be recommended in order to help individuals adjust and manage their physical impairments.


Occulta is the least severe form of spina bifida and occurs when there is an incomplete closing of one or more of the vertebrae of the spine. Unlike the other two forms, occulta does not cause any physical impairments or disabilities, nor does it require any surgical intervention. However, individuals with occulta are at higher risk for developing foot deformities, hip subluxation, and musculoskeletal impairments.


Treatment for occulta is typically focused on prevention. This includes regular follow-up appointments with a doctor to monitor foot and musculoskeletal development, as well as physical therapy to help maintain mobility. The individual may also be prescribed orthotics or braces to help correct any foot deformities or hip subluxations that may occur.

People Also Ask

What age is spina bifida diagnosed?

Spina bifida is usually diagnosed either prenatally through ultrasound or shortly after birth.

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What causes spina bifida?

The exact cause of spina bifida is not known, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Is spina bifida contagious?

No, spina bifida is not contagious and cannot be passed from person to person.

What is the prognosis for spina bifida?

The prognosis for spina bifida varies depending on the type and severity of the condition. In general, individuals with mild forms of the condition may be able to live a relatively normal life with minimal assistance, while those with more severe forms may require extensive medical care and assistance in daily activities.

Can spina bifida be prevented?

Yes, spina bifida can be prevented with the use of folic acid supplements and a balanced diet during pregnancy.

Final Words

In sum, spina bifida is a serious condition that can cause various physical disabilities and impairments. It is incurable, but it is possible to manage and reduce its symptoms with the right treatment and care. It is important to understand the different types of spina bifida and their associated treatments in order to provide the best care and support for individuals affected by the condition.