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Managing Cauda Equina Syndrome With Exercise

Managing Cauda Equina Syndrome With Exercise

Any form of exercise following treatment for Cauda Equina Syndrome should only be undertaken with the strict supervision of a trained medical professional.

We all know that exercise is good for us and when it comes to back pain, it is essential. Most experts state that the worst thing to do if you have injured your back is to not move; you will recover much faster if you do some gentle stretching and exercise.

But does this advice extend to major problems associated with the back, for example, Cauda Equina Syndrome?

The effects of Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina Syndrome is a rare disorder which involves intense pressure on the nerves of the lower back. This can cause severe pain, bowel and bladder problems, numbness and weakness in one or both legs. It is usually caused by a slipped disc (sometimes known as a prolapsed disc), infection, trauma or a tumour.

If diagnosed, the patient needs immediate treatment, usually in the form of a lumbar microdiscectomy.

Understanding how the lower back works

The lower part of the back is known as the lumbosacral region. Made up of mostly muscles, which attach to the spine, it is an incredibly important part of the body, and one of the most fragile aspects of the human frame. The vertebrae in this area are roughly circular and between each vertebra is a disc. The discs between the vertebrae are made up f a strong fibrous outer layer and a softer, gel-like centre. The discs act as shock absorbers and allow the spine to be flexible.

Strong ligaments attach to nearby (adjacent) vertebrae to give extra support and strength whilst muscles control the flexion of the spine.

The spinal cord, which contains the nerve pathways to and from the brain, is protected by the spine. Nerves from the spinal cord exit between the vertebrae to take and receive messages to various parts of the body. These are the nerves that can be permanently damaged by Cauda Equina Syndrome.

The benefits of exercise to help manage Cauda Equina Syndrome

When embarking on an exercise program to help recover from Cauda Equina Syndrome and manage its after-effects, the ultimate goals should ensure:

  • maximum neurological recovery & independence
  • a pain-free and flexible spine
  • maintenance of mobility & strength in lower limbs
  • core strength
  • improvement of standing & walking function
  • improvement of bladder, bowel and sexual function

Pelvic floor exercises can assist with regaining bladder control and gentle aerobic exercise such as walking can help restore strength in the lower back and legs.

Sacral nerve stimulation

Many patients complain of straining to urinate, incontinence, and sensation of incomplete emptying. The urinary stream may be diminished and interrupted, as many of these patients rely on abdominal straining to urinate. On occasion, not being able to empty your bladder may be the only initial clinical manifestation of a cauda equina lesion. Problems with controlling bowel movements can also be a debilitating consequence of the syndrome.

Sacral nerve stimulation treatment has been shown to increase perianal sensitivity and improve deliberate retention of faeces. The procedure can also help retrain the bladder to only empty itself when full.

Finally, yoga and Pilates are excellent for developing core strength and relaxing the lower back.

In Summary

Cauda Equina Syndrome is a devastating condition. If taken under the supervision of a trained physiotherapist, exercise and sacral nerve stimulation can assist you in your recovery. Exercise is also a wonderful way to naturally boost your mood and prevent depression, something many Cauda Equina Syndrome suffers have to also manage.

If your GP or another doctor failed to diagnose you or offered a misdiagnosis, then you may be entitled to claim compensation which can assist you in maximising your chances of recovery.

At Glynns Solicitors we have the expertise required to successfully act for people who have had cauda equina syndrome missed or misdiagnosed by a health professional. Please call us on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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