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Cauda Equina
Your Cauda Equina Syndrome questions answered

Your Cauda Equina Syndrome questions answered

Cauda equina syndrome is where the cauda equina nerves at the base of the spinal cord have become compressed and are ceasing to function. As a medical emergency, it is important that key aspects of the condition are understood.

1. Can I die from cauda equina syndrome?

No, cauda equina syndrome is not a life-threatening condition. However, if diagnosis and treatment are delayed, its long-term effects can be devastating and certainly life-changing.

2. How do I know if I have cauda equina syndrome?

There are key red flag symptoms that will indicate that you might be suffering from cauda equina syndrome. These are as follows, depending on the degree of nerve damage:

  • Sciatica-like pain in one or both legs
  • Alteration in urinary function, such as difficulty urinating or reduced urine flow
  • Numbness around the 'saddle' area that is around the buttocks, anus, and genital area.
  • Lower back pain
  • Possible faecal incontinence or difficulty (problems passing a bowel motion)
  • Sexual dysfunction

3. What causes cauda equina syndrome?

There are a number of possible conditions that might cause compression of the cauda equina nerves. These include the following:

  • A herniated disc
  • A tumour on the spine
  • Spinal stenosis, usually due to the aging of the spine
  • A trauma to the spine
  • Inflammation of the spine, perhaps due to an abscess

4. How should my GP respond to my symptoms?

If your GP thinks you may have cauda equina syndrome, you should be referred for an urgent MRI scan and for a consultation with a spinal surgeon. Cauda equina syndrome is a medical emergency.

5. Why is cauda equina syndrome a medical emergency?

It is generally agreed that the chances of recovering from cauda equina syndrome are increased significantly if surgery is undertaken within 24 48 hours from the onset of symptoms. If diagnosis and surgery are delayed, the damage to the nerve roots may not recover and the patient may be left with permanent symptoms.

6. How is cauda equina syndrome treated?

Cauda equina syndrome is treated in an operating theatre with decompression surgery. This is usually by a laminectomy which removes part of the vertebra (backbone), thereby relieving pressure on the cauda equina nerves.

7. Will I recover from cauda equina syndrome?

Your chances of recovering from cauda equina syndrome depend on how badly your cauda equina nerves are damaged, how quickly your surgery took place and how successful the surgery was. It is generally agreed that the sooner surgery takes place, the greater the chances of recovery.

8. What are the possible long-term effects of cauda equina syndrome?

If your surgery is unsuccessful, the long-term effects of cauda equina syndrome can be paralysis of the lower body, resulting in urinary, bowel and sexual dysfunction.

9. Can I make a claim for compensation if I have cauda equina syndrome?

You cannot make a claim for having developed cauda equina syndrome unless you feel it was caused by medical negligence. However, if diagnosis and treatment of your cauda equina syndrome were delayed and you have been left with a poor, long-term outlook, you might be able to make a claim for compensation which can help you deal with those long-term effects.

10. Are cauda equina claims successful?

Cauda equina claims are frequently successful if it can be proved that medical negligence led to your poor outcome.

Speak to a solicitor

If you or a loved one have suffered from the devastating effects of cauda equina syndrome and you feel that poor medical treatment contributed to your distressing circumstances, contact Glynns Solicitors. We are a team of solicitors specialising in medical negligence, especially cauda equina syndrome.

Glynns Solicitors is a specialist medical negligence practice with extensive experience of cauda equina syndrome cases. Contact us today to discuss your situation.

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

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