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Cauda Equina
Can I get Cauda Equina Syndrome from an Infection?

Can I get Cauda Equina Syndrome from an Infection?

Cauda equina syndrome is a condition that arises when the cauda equina nerves at the base of the spinal cord become compressed for one of a variety of reasons. This can lead to symptoms of varying degrees of severity in the lower half of the body, such as pain, tingling, numbness and loss of control, as the cauda equina nerves cease to function. In the worst case scenarios, cauda equina syndrome can lead to partial paralysis.

What causes cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome can be caused by anything that might cause damage to or compression of the spine. This could include:

  • A herniated disc
  • A tumour
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Inflammation of the spine
  • A trauma to the spine, such as an injury in a car accident
  • An infection in the spine

What type of infection causes cauda equina syndrome?

Osteomyelitis is a bacterial infection of the bone that can occasionally affect the spine, sometimes leading to cauda equina syndrome. The infection has usually spread from another part of the body through the bloodstream. It can cause fever, pain and swelling in the affected area.

Spinal (or vertebral) osteomyelitis is an illness that anyone of any age can contract but those with diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis are thought to be more at risk due to the nature of those illnesses. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are also at risk. Poor circulation is also a factor as the bone may be more vulnerable to infection where the blood supply is poorer. Osteomyelitis can also develop as the result of an injury, such as a broken bone.

The most common location of osteomyelitis in the spine is in the lower back the lumbar region which is where the cauda equina nerves are located, thus making them susceptible to the effects of the infection.

If the infection reaches the spinal canal where the spinal cord is located, it can cause an abscess and swelling which can lead to compression of the cauda equina nerves, thus causing cauda equina syndrome.

What is the treatment for cauda equina syndrome?

If a patient with osteomyelitis starts to experience sciatica-like pain in the legs and signs of urinary dysfunction, it is possible that they may be developing cauda equina syndrome.

Cauda equina syndrome needs urgent diagnosis and treatment with surgical decompression. It is generally thought that surgery needs to be undertaken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms in order for the patient to have the greatest chance of recovery. Without prompt attention, cauda equina syndrome can leave the patient with urinary and sexual dysfunction, and weakness in the legs.

Medical Negligence

If you have suffered the long-term effects of cauda equine syndrome due to poor medical care, contact Glynns Solicitors, specialists in medical negligence. You may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.

Glynns Solicitors is a specialist medical negligence practice with extensive experience of cauda equina syndrome cases. Contact us today to discuss your situation.

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