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Cauda Equina
Can I Sue for CES Due to a Missed Prolapsed Disc?

Can I Sue for CES Due to a Missed Prolapsed Disc?

Most people who develop cauda equina syndrome do so because they have a prolapsed disc in the lumbar region of the spine. If this is causing compression of the cauda equina nerves, surgery may be required as a matter of emergency. A failure to diagnose this problem may be regarded as negligent.

How does a prolapsed disc cause CES?

In order to facilitate ease of movement and protect the spine, the vertebrae of the spine are separated by discs. Each disc consists of a jelly-like centre, surrounded by a fibrous outer ring. It is not uncommon for the soft centre to push through the outer fibrous material, creating a prolapsed or herniated disc. This may happen due to trauma or wear and tear.

Problems can arise when the material which is extruding through the outer layer pushes on a nerve in the adjacent spinal cord. Nerves are the message-carriers of the body, relaying information between the brain and the muscles and sensory organs to enable the body to function. If they become squashed or compressed, they can lose their ability to transmit information. This can lead to the loss of both sensation and movement in the relevant parts of the body.

In the case of cauda equina syndrome, the cauda equina nerves at the base of the spinal cord become compressed, causing a range of possible symptoms in the pelvic and lower body region such as the following:

  • Bowel incontinence
  • Bladder incontinence
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Loss of mobility


If a patient attends their GP or Accident and Emergency facility with pain in the lower back and legs, it may well be caused by a prolapsed disc. This may be affecting the sciatic nerve or it may be compressing the cauda equina nerves.

In these circumstances, the patient is likely to receive a diagnosis of sciatica but it is important that the possibility that they are, in fact, developing cauda equina syndrome needs to be ruled out. It is important to ascertain if the patient is experiencing any change in their bladder or bowel habits or if they have altered sensation in the saddle area.

If they are not exhibiting any specific cauda equina syndrome symptoms, it is, nonetheless, important to warn the patient of these red flag symptoms. Should these symptoms start to develop, the patient needs to attend Accident and Emergency immediately.

Medical negligence

A failure to assess a patient thoroughly for cauda equina symptoms may mean that their condition remains undiagnosed. If their symptoms then deteriorate, meaning that their chance of recovery is reduced, their medical professionals may be regarded as having been negligent.

Speak to a solicitor

If you or a loved one are suffering the debilitating, long-term symptoms of cauda equina syndrome due to a delay in diagnosis, it might be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

Contact Glynns today to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor about your situation.

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