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Deterioration From Sciatica To Cauda Equina Syndrome

Deterioration From Sciatica To Cauda Equina Syndrome

A patient may experience months or even years of symptoms before they actually develop cauda equina syndrome.

Sciatic pain to cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is when something (such as a large central disc prolapse) compresses the cauda equina nerves. Before this happens, there can be a long history of symptoms, during which the surrounding nerves are being irritated but the cauda equina nerves are not yet involved.

During this time the patient will suffer sciatic pain, which runs from the lower back and into one leg. There may also be muscle weakness in the leg, with reduced reflexes and sensation.

For some these symptoms will remain the same or improve. Only a small percentage will go on to develop cauda equina syndrome. For those who do, they will suffer a sudden deterioration in symptoms. The pain and weakness can spread to both legs, and there may also be bladder and bowel dysfunction, with incontinence, constipation and loss of sensation.

Red flag warning

It is very important that a patient has been forewarned of the symptoms of cauda equina syndrome. Medical practitioners should advise a patient complaining of sciatica about the 'red flag symptoms' of cauda equina syndrome. They are called red flag symptoms because they signal severe neurological involvement.

When a patient has been warned about the red flags, it means he/she knows to proceed straight to hospital, should there be a deterioration in their condition. If no such warning has been given, the patient may not be aware of the need to seek emergency medical help, and will instead try to continue as normal.

Diagnosing cauda equina syndrome

Furthermore, when a patient presents to a medical setting with the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome, it is vital that doctors make a swift diagnosis. Unfortunately there are occasions when medical practitioners do not appreciate the seriousness of a patient's symptoms, causing the patient to be discharged or admitted on a non-emergency basis.

In fact what should happen is that the patient is immediately suspected of having cauda equina syndrome and admitted to hospital. An emergency MRI scan should be arranged, meaning the same day (or early the following day if it is night-time). Once cauda equina compression is confirmed by MRI scan, the patient should undergo emergency decompression surgery.

Cauda equina medical negligence

If medical practitioners fail to warn a patient about the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome, and/or fail to realise that a patient has developed cauda equina syndrome, there could be a case of medical negligence.

For more information about claiming compensation for cauda equina medical negligence, contact us today.

Expert legal advice

To find out if you can claim for cauda equina syndrome, please contact us at Glynns Solicitors. We specialise in cauda equina claims and can provide professional legal advice.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss your situation. Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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