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Sensory Impairment in Cauda Equina Syndrome

Sensory Impairment in Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome will cause the impairment of sensation, as well as bladder and bowel dysfunction.

In this article we explore sensory impairment in more detail, explaining what it means and what areas of the body will be affected by cauda equina syndrome.

Cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is a neurological condition. It happens when the cauda equina nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord are compressed. Compression will damage the nerves and they will stop functioning properly.

The cauda equina nerves provide sensation to certain areas across the lower half of the body. Specifically, they provide sensation to the bladder, urethra, genitals, perineum, legs, and part of the buttocks/groin.

The cauda equina nerves also do other things. In particular they enable function in the legs, bladder, bowel and sexual organs.

Cauda equina syndrome impairment of sensation

Therefore when the cauda equina nerves are compressed and damaged, sensation and function in these areas of the body will be lost. To recap, sensation can be reduced or lost in:

  • The legs
  • Buttocks
  • Perineum
  • Anus
  • External genitals
  • Urethra
  • Groin

The impairment of sensation can feel different for different people. There may be a tingling feeling akin to pins and needles. Or there may be a burning sensation, or the feeling that water is being poured onto the skin. Or the area may feel numb, or there may be a complete loss of sensation so that the patient cannot even feel a pin-prick. In almost all cases, the patient will say that it feels 'weird' or 'odd', even if they cannot describe specifically the exact sensation.

Other symptoms

Along with sensory impairment, cauda equina syndrome will also cause dysfunction in the bladder, bowel and sexual organs. This can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Constipation and incontinence
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Inability to achieve erection/orgasm

Is sensory impairment permanent?

The loss of sensation will be very disconcerting and can significantly affect someone's life. For example, not being able to feel your legs and feet properly can cause mobility issues, necessitating the use of a wheelchair.

However, sensory impairment can be reversed if surgery is performed quickly enough. Decompression surgery is needed before the nerves been irreparably damaged something which can happen in as little as 48 hours. Unfortunately if this operation is not carried out in time, the patient's symptoms can be permanent including their loss of sensation.

Has this happened to you?

If you have suffered permanent injuries because your cauda equina syndrome was not operated upon in time, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact us for more information.

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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