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Cauda Equina
How Do I Know if I Have Cauda Equina Syndrome?

How Do I Know if I Have Cauda Equina Syndrome?

If it is not diagnosed in time, the long-term effects of cauda equina syndrome can be destructive and life-changing. Recognising the early signs is vital.

What is cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome is a medical emergency, requiring surgery to try to prevent the patient becoming paralysed with bowel and urinary incontinence.

It is a condition where the cauda equina nerves at the base of the spinal cord become compressed, causing the patient to lose control over their bowel and urinary function, as well as their feeling in and control of their legs.

What are the signs of cauda equina syndrome?

If possible, it is desirable that cauda equina syndrome is diagnosed at the 'incomplete' stage where the patient may be experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the lower back
  • Tingling and pain in the leg (s)
  • Alteration in urinary function, such as poor flow, difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Alteration of sensation in the 'saddle' area

If action is taken at this point, the patient has a greater chance of a good recovery.

However, if the symptoms deteriorate to where the patient retains urine without pain and loses control of their urinary function, becoming incontinent, the condition is considered to have moved to the 'complete' stage. The patient is likely to have lost feeling and be numb in the 'saddle' area around the buttocks and genitals by this time.

The patient may also be experiencing pain in both legs.

At this point, a positive outcome from surgery is less likely but there may be some improvement in symptoms with early attention.

What causes cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome can be prompted by a number of conditions such as a herniated disc, inflammation of the spine or spinal stenosis, that cause the nerves in the lumbar region of the spine to become compressed, or squashed. As these nerves are compressed, their ability to function reduces, producing the symptoms mentioned earlier.

The condition is likely to worsen, with increasing dysfunction, although the speed at which this happens may vary from patient to patient.

Responding to the symptoms

If you are experiencing the above symptoms, emergency medical attention and an MRI scan are necessary to confirm whether or not you are suffering from cauda equina syndrome.

If a diagnosis is positive, it is widely believed that decompression surgery is needed within 48 hours in order to offer the best opportunity of a good recovery.

Medical Negligence

If the patient presents with the above symptoms but referral, investigation and diagnosis are delayed, the medical practitioners may be guilty of medical negligence.

If surgery is delayed after confirmation of diagnosis, thereby risking a worse outcome for the patient, it may again be a case of medical negligence.

Speak to a solicitor

At Glynns Solicitors we have successfully undertaken numerous claims for medical negligence relating to cauda equina syndrome. If you have suffered needlessly with this dreadful condition, contact us to discuss your details with a solicitor experienced in dealing with compensation claims related to cauda equina syndrome.

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

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