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Cauda Equina Syndrome From Inflammatory Conditions

Cauda equina syndrome is when the cauda equina nerves at the base of the spine are compressed. This can occur due to an inflammatory condition.

Cauda equina syndrome

The cauda equina nerves are located at the bottom of the spinal cord and are responsible for providing sensation and function to the legs, saddle region (buttocks, perineum and genitals) and the pelvic organs (bladder, bowel and sexual organs).

If the nerves are compressed, they will be damaged and function/sensation will be lost. Cauda equina syndrome is most commonly associated with a perforated vertebral disc. However, there are many other possible causes, including inflammatory conditions.

Inflammatory conditions and cauda equina syndrome

An inflammation in the region of the spinal canal will cause the tissue to swell and expand. The engorged tissue will consequently impinge upon the surrounding structures, such as the cauda equina nerves.

Inflammatory conditions that can result in cauda equina syndrome include:

Sarcoidosis

Sarcoidosis is when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues, causing patches of swollen tissue called granulomas to develop.

Paget’s disease

Paget’s disease is when the bone does not renew properly. The bone is replaced faster than it deteriorates, resulting in enlarged brittle bones. The bone can subsequently fracture, creating inflammation.

Ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis. It is a chronic condition that causes inflammation around the spine and other areas of the body, such as the hips and ribs.

Recognising cauda equina syndrome caused by inflammation

If a patient develops cauda equina syndrome as a result of their inflammatory condition, he/she will soon notice the onset of certain symptoms. For example, there will be numbness around the perineum and buttocks, difficulty urinating and sexual dysfunction.

A patient who present with these symptoms should be suspected of having cauda equina syndrome. Suspicions should be especially raised if the patient is already known to have a chronic inflammatory condition such as ankylosing spondylitis. This is because cauda equina syndrome is a known complication of inflammatory conditions and so clinicians should be alert to the problem.

Failure to detect cauda equina syndrome

If medical practitioners fail to notice that a patient has developed cauda equina syndrome because of an inflammatory condition, there may be grounds for a medical compensation claim.

For more information about cauda equina claims, please contact our expert team of cauda equina solicitors.

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