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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Wildervanck syndrome

Other Names for this Disease
  • Cervico-oculo-acoustic dysplasia
  • Cervico-oculo-acoustic syndrome
  • Cervicooculoacoustic syndrome
  • COA Syndrome
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Your Question

When I bend over and straighten up my spine feels like its ripping open. Is this part of the disorder?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

Is Wildervanck syndrome associated with severe back pain?

Wildervanck syndrome is a condition that affects the bones in the neck, the eyes, and the ears.  It is characterized by Klippel-Feil anomaly (in which the bones of the neck fuse together), Duane syndrome (an eye movement disorder that is present from birth), and hearing loss.[1] The most common signs of Klippel-Feil anomaly are short neck, low hairline at the back of the head, and restricted mobility of the upper spine. It can also be associated with scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and spina bifida (a birth defect of the spine).[2] Back pain may occur in people with Wildervanck syndrome and Klippel-Feil anomaly due to degenerative joint or disc disease, instability of the upper spine, scoliosis or (rarely) spina bifida. Complications from neurological injury to the spine can be very serious, so we strongly recommend that you discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider. People with Klippel-Feil anomaly tend to have a good prognosis when complications are diagnosed and treated early.[3]
Last updated: 4/25/2011

  • Gorlin, R; Cohen Jr., M; Hennekam, R. Syndromes of the Head and Neck. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2001;
  • Klippel-Feil syndrome. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). 2007; Accessed 4/8/2008.
  • Warner WC. Pediatric Cervical Spine. In: Canale & Beaty. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics, 11th ed. . Philadelphia, PA: Mosby; 2007;