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Cauda Equina Syndrome From Slipped Disc Not Diagnosed

Cauda Equina Syndrome From Slipped Disc Not Diagnosed

After first seeking help for chronic lower back pain, Kerry had to wait nine months for her cauda equina syndrome to be accurately diagnosed.

When Kerry started to experience pain in her left leg, stretching from the hip to the thigh, she attended the GP who diagnosed a pulled hamstring.

Kerry was told to take painkillers to manage the pain, but this did little to alleviate her discomfort. She carried on as best she could for three weeks, but when she lost sensation in both her legs she called the GP surgery and asked for a home visit. This request was refused by the receptionist, and she was told to visit the practice when she could walk again.

The pain and numbness continued for the next four months. When Kerry developed pins and needles in her right leg, she tried to see her GP. There were no appointments available, so again she asked for a home visit. Again this request was refused by the receptionist.

Kerry telephoned the practice manager of the GP surgery directly. After describing her symptoms she was given an emergency appointment the following day. She was seen by a locum who noted that Kerry had no reflexes in her left ankle. She was diagnosed with sciatica and referred to a community orthopaedic service.

This appointment finally took place a month later. By that stage, Kerry continued to have chronic pain and numbness in her legs but she had also developed pins and needles in her vagina, numbness in her buttocks, numbness around her anus, a limp in her left foot, urinary urgency, and had lost all sexual sensation.

At the community orthopaedic service she was seen by a physiotherapist, who suspected there was a slipped disc that was bulging outwards, pressing upon the nerves. She referred Kerry for an urgent MRI scan which was performed two days later. However, it was not until one month later that Kerry’s scan was reviewed by the consultant.

When she did eventually meet the consultant, he confirmed the presence of a slipped disc and informed Kerry that she needed decompression surgery for cauda equina syndrome. Kerry had to wait another month for the operation, despite the fact she had by that point developed urinary and faecal incontinence.

Unfortunately the operation has not resolved Kerry’s symptoms. She has been told that the nerves in her pelvic region were crushed, leaving her with a neuropathic bladder. She remains incontinent of urine and it is unlikely that this will improve in the future.

Kerry also continues to suffer total numbness around her vagina and perineum, and must live with constant pain in her back and legs. She finds this extremely draining and can no longer do housework, cook or socialise with friends, as she has neither the energy nor the ability to do so.

As well as facing enormous physical and emotional strain, she eventually had to give up her job as her duties were too physically difficult to undertake.

These complications would have been significantly minimised, had Kerry not been subject to repeat misdiagnoses and delays in treatment. We helped her pursue a claim against the GP surgery and the hospital for the substandard level of care she received. She was awarded over £80,000 in compensation.

(Details which might identify our client have been changed.)

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