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Cauda Equina
Who Gets Cauda Equina Syndrome?

Who Gets Cauda Equina Syndrome?

Anyone can develop cauda equina syndrome, although some people will be more predisposed to getting the condition than others.

Who can get cauda equina syndrome?

Anyone can get cauda equina syndrome, even those who were previously healthy and fit individuals. It can occur at any age, although it is much more likely to affect adults.

Cauda equina syndrome is when the nerves roots at the bottom of the spine are crushed and injured. The condition is therefore more likely to affect someone who has a weakness in the spine, or who has another illness that can lead to nerve compression. Some examples are described below:

Slipped discs

A slipped disc (also called a prolapsed or herniated disc) in the lower back is a common cause of cauda equina syndrome. Discs can slip due to the ageing process which reduces the amount of water in the cartilage. A prolapsed disc can also occur due to a degenerative spinal condition, a traumatic accident (such as a fall or road traffic collision), sporting injuries, jarring movements in the back or heavy lifting.

Medical conditions

There are certain medical conditions that can lead to cauda equina syndrome. These include conditions affecting the spine such as ankylosing spondylitis, spondylolisthesis, spina bifida, spinal stenosis, sarcoidosis and kyphoscoliosis. Infections of the spine can have a similar effect because the inflammation can narrow the spinal canal, compressing the nerves.

Lesions or clots

Masses can develop in the spinal canal, the growth of which will push upon the nerves. Examples include spinal tumours, abscesses and blood clots (often after an operation).

Have I got cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome normally develops as a result of another underling problem. However, this problem may as yet be undiagnosed, particularly if it is a slipped disc or a spinal tumour. This means you may not always be aware of the fact that you are more at risk of getting cauda equina syndrome.

Nevertheless, cauda equina syndrome has very distinct symptoms that will aid a diagnosis. These symptoms are:

  • Lower back pain that extends to the legs
  • Weakness and sensory deficits in the legs/feet/ankles>
  • Bladder dysfunction with numbness around the perineum, urethra and buttocks
  • Bowel disturbances
  • Sexual dysfunction

If you have these symptoms, you need to have a neurological examination and an MRI scan. These investigations should be carried out on an emergency basis.

Failure to diagnose and treat cauda equina syndrome

If medical practitioners fail to diagnose and treat your cauda equina syndrome within a reasonable amount of time, there could be grounds for a medical negligence compensation claim. Contact us for more information.

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