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Cauda Equina Syndrome Misdiagnosed as Sciatica

Cauda Equina Syndrome Misdiagnosed as Sciatica

Cauda equina syndrome symptoms usually include lower back and leg pain and, as a result, this appalling, life-changing condition can be mistakenly diagnosed as sciatica. If this has happened to you, it may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.

Cauda equina syndrome symptoms

A patient who attends their GP or Accident and Emergency unit with lower back pain which extends to one of the legs may be sent home with a diagnosis of sciatica. Unless they undergo a thorough assessment, however, it may not be clear that they are actually developing cauda equina syndrome.

Medical professionals faced with a patient with lower back and leg pain should check for the following additional symptoms:

  • Is the patient experiencing any symptoms in the second leg (bilateral leg symptoms may indicate a problem with the cauda equina nerves)?
  • Is the patient aware of any alteration or loss of sensation in the saddle area between the legs and around the buttocks?
  • Is the patient experiencing any alteration in urinary flow such as difficulty starting to urinate or a poor flow?
  • Is the patient suffering any loss of sexual function?
  • Is the patient suffering any loss of sensation around the anus?

Symptoms such as those above might indicate that the patient's problems are being caused by compression of the cauda equina nerves at the base of the spine and the patient may require an MRI scan urgently in order to confirm a diagnosis.

Assessing for cauda equina syndrome

The GP may carry out a number of tests designed to assess the patient's nerve function such as a pin-prick test to assess any loss of sensation, an anal squeeze test and a straight-leg raising test.

If the medical professional does not consider it necessary to refer the patient for an MRI scan at this stage, they should, nonetheless, advise the patient of the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome as listed above.

This is an important step because, if the patient develops any of the red flag symptoms, they should attend Accident and Emergency immediately. A delay at this point might allow the patient to deteriorate still further and risk suffering a very poor long-term outlook indeed.

Time is of the essence. A delay in surgery can be catastrophic and if this delay is considered to be the fault of the medical professional consulted, then it may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation for the pain and financial losses suffered as a result of the delay.

Speak to a solicitor

If you or a loved one are suffering permanent and disabling symptoms due to a delay in diagnosing your cauda equina syndrome, contact Glynns today.

We have supported numerous clients in making highly-successful compensation claims for poor management of this shocking condition and will be very happy to advise you.

Please call us on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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