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Cauda Equina Syndrome from a Sequestered Disc

Cauda equina syndrome can be caused by a sequestered disc, which is when part of a vertebral disc breaks off and travels into the spinal canal.

This article explores what a sequestered disc is, how it can cause cauda equina syndrome, and what symptoms this will cause.

Sequestrated disc

A sequestrated disc is similar to a herniated or slipped disc, although the two are slightly different, as explained below.

With a herniated disc, the material on the inside of a vertebral disc (called the nucleus) pushes through a weakness in the outer ring of a vertebral disc. The nucleus pokes through the gap, and this can press upon surrounding nerves, causing pain and irritation.

With a sequestrated disc, the part of the nucleus which is bulging through the gap actually breaks off and migrates into the spinal canal. This fragment of vertebral disc can compress nearby structures, particularly the cauda equina nerves.

Sequestered disc and cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome happens when something – such as a sequestrated disc – compresses the cauda equina nerves located at the base of the spinal cord. Other causes of compression can include a spinal tumour, a slipped/herniated disc, an inflammatory condition or an infection.

Compression will cause the nerves to suffer damage and this will affect their ability to function. This will lead to neurological symptoms. When symptoms occur due to cauda equina compression, a person has cauda equina syndrome.

Cauda equina syndrome symptoms

If a sequestered disc compresses the cauda equina nerves, a constellation of symptoms will develop, alerting the individual that something is wrong. It is very unusual for a person with a sequestrated disc to be asymptomatic (without symptoms).

The signs that a sequestered disc is compressing the cauda equina nerves include:

Anyone who develops these symptoms must seek immediate medical help because cauda equina syndrome is a medical emergency, meaning it must be treated without delay.

Delay in sequestered disc treatment

If a sequestered disc is not treated quickly, despite the fact it is causing a patient to suffer cauda equina syndrome, the standard of care will be considered unacceptable. If this causes a patient long-term neurological dysfunction, there may be grounds for a compensation claim.

For more information on cauda equina claims, please get in touch with us today.

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