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Cauda Equina Syndrome – What Is It?

Cauda equina syndrome is when the cauda equina nerves are compressed and lose function. Here we explore the condition in more detail.

Cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is a rare neurological condition. The term describes a collection of symptoms that occur when the cauda equina nerves are compressed and damaged.

The cauda equina nerves are located at the bottom of the spinal cord and provide sensory and motor function to the lower limbs, pelvic organs and perineal/saddle/perianal region.

The cauda equina nerves can become compressed in a number of ways, with the most common being a central disc prolapse. Other causes include spinal tumours and trauma.

Because the nerves are delicate, any compression will soon lead to injury. The nerves will consequently lose function and problems will begin to develop.

Signs of cauda equina syndrome

There are physical signs that the cauda equina nerves are compressed. Together these are known as the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome and include:-

Anyone with these symptoms should seek immediate medical advice.

Effects of cauda equina syndrome

If cauda equina syndrome is not treated in time, the consequences will be life-changing. A patient may be left with some or all of the following:-

These complications are normally permanent, although there may be a degree of improvement over time. This can have a devastating knock-on effect – emotionally, socially and financially. Indeed, someone with long-term cauda equina complications may subsequently experience relationship difficulties, problems with social interactions and the inability to continue in employment.

Can cauda equina complications be avoided?

The only way to prevent the effects of cauda equina compression is to carry out timely surgery. The cauda equina nerves must be surgically decompressed in the early stages of the condition, while it is still incomplete. A patient with incomplete cauda equina syndrome will still have some control over their bladder.

If surgical decompression is performed while the condition is incomplete, the prognosis will be significantly better than if the condition is allowed to progress to the complete stage (where there is painless urinary retention).

If complications do occur because medical practitioners fail to carry out timely surgery, there may be grounds for a compensation claim. This will give the patient the opportunity to claim for the physical, emotional and financial damage that has been wrongfully incurred. Contact us to find out more.

Please call us free on 0800 234 3300, from a mobile click to call 01275 334030 or complete our Free Online Enquiry for a no cost, no obligation opinion.

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