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Numbness In The Genitals  Cauda Equina Syndrome

Numbness In The Genitals Cauda Equina Syndrome

Numbness in and around the genitals is a concerning symptom that could indicate cauda equina syndrome.

Cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is a neurological condition, meaning it involves the nerves. More specially, it involves the cauda equina nerves which are located at the bottom of the spine.

The cauda equina nerves enable function and sensation in the pelvic organs, urethra, genitals, peri-anal region and lower limbs. If the cauda equina nerves become damaged for any reason, function and sensation across these areas will be lost.

That is why cauda equina syndrome is associated with numbness in the genitals, which can include the testicles, penis, vagina, clitoris and perineum.

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There are various reasons why the cauda equina nerves might become damaged. The most frequent cause is a slipped vertebral disc that is pressing on the nerves. Other causes include a tumour or abscess on the spine, an infection, inflammation or stenosis (narrowing) of the spinal canal.

Does genital numbness mean I have cauda equina syndrome?

Genital numbness does not necessarily equate to cauda equina syndrome. For cauda equina syndrome to be diagnosed, the patient will need to have other symptoms associated with cauda equina nerve compression, such as:

  • Lack of sensation when urinating
  • Urinary difficulties, such as poor flow, inability to fully empty the bladder and episodes of incontinence
  • Reduced anal tone
  • Weakness, numbness and/or tingling in the legs, buttocks and perineum
  • Bowel dysfunction

If a patient has a number of these symptoms, it is a strong indication that he/she has cauda equina syndrome.

Not referred for loss of sensation

It is worth noting that cauda equina syndrome can be a progressive condition, so that a patient may only have lower back pain to begin with, but then develops further problems such as genital numbness with urinary difficulties.

When additional symptoms arise, the patient must be sent to hospital even if he/she has already had an MRI scan or has previously been discharged from hospital, as it may be that the patient now has cauda equina syndrome (when he/she didn't before).

Numbness, tingling and the loss of sensation is a red flag symptom of cauda equina syndrome. It is a significant symptom that should prompt medical practitioners to arrange a same-day orthopaedic assessment.

If a patient reports a history of genital numbness along with other symptoms consistent with cauda equina syndrome, there must be an immediate referral to a specialist. A failure to do so will amount to a breach of duty.

Make a legal claim

If your cauda equina syndrome was not diagnosed and treated quickly enough, please get in touch to find out if you can make a legal claim.

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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