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Sciatica Cauda Equina

cauda-equinaCauda equina syndrome and sciatica are two different conditions. However, cauda equina syndrome can be associated with sciatic pain.

If a patient has sciatica it is important to note whether any other red flag symptoms are present, as it may be that he/she has cauda equina syndrome.

Sciatica

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body. It runs from the lower spine, through the buttocks, down the back of the legs and into the feet.

Sciatica is a condition that occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes compressed and inflamed. It is associated with a neurological type of pain. There may also be numbness, tingling and weakness running along the nerve.

Cauda equina syndrome

The cauda equina nerves are a bundle of nerves at the base of the spinal cord. They run from the lower back and into the buttocks, saddle area and upper legs. They lie in close proximity to the sciatic nerve.

Cauda equina syndrome is a condition that occurs when the cauda equina nerves become compressed and damaged. The injury to the nerves will cause them to lose function. Cauda equina syndrome is therefore associated with the loss of sensation and function in the saddle area, pelvic organs and legs.

Why is sciatica associated with cauda equina syndrome?

Although they are different conditions, sciatica is often associated with cauda equina syndrome.

This is because sciatica is one of the many symptoms of cauda equina syndrome. However, sciatica alone does not indicate cauda equina syndrome. Only when all the red flag signs are present should medical practitioners suspect cauda equina compression.

Thus someone with sciatic pain but no other neurological dysfunction is likely to be suffering from sciatica, rather than anything more serious. But if sciatica is present along with other red flag symptoms, the patient must undergo investigations for cauda equina syndrome.

What are the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome?

The red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome are:

A patient with sciatica should be told to look out for these symptoms. If they arise in conjunction with sciatic pain, urgent medical attention should be sought.

Failure to distinguish between sciatica and cauda equina syndrome

If medical practitioners fail to notice that a patient is displaying the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome in addition to sciatica, the standard of care will be deemed unacceptable. To talk to a solicitor about substandard medical care, please get in touch with us today.

Call us free on 0800 234 3300 or from a mobile click to call 01275 334030 for a no cost, no obligation opinion or complete our free online enquiry form.

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