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Cauda Equina Syndrome Wrongly Diagnosed As Lower Back Pain

Cauda equina syndrome (CES) is often wrongly diagnosed as lower back pain. If this misdiagnosis causes long-term complications, there may be grounds for a medical negligence compensation claim.

Lower back pain and cauda equina syndrome

Lower back pain is a common condition amongst the UK population. The problem is often accompanied by urinary disturbances, as voiding can cause an increase in pain.

Lower back pain and urinary dysfunction are both symptoms of cauda equina syndrome. However, most people who suffer these symptoms simply have generalised lower back pain that is not caused by the compression of the cauda equina nerves (as is the case with cauda equina syndrome).

Therefore the challenge facing medical practitioners is to differentiate between case of generalised lower back pain and cauda equina syndrome. It is important to get this correct, as generalised lower back pain only requires conservative treatment, perhaps with a referral to a physiotherapist. Cauda equina syndrome, on the other hand, is a medical emergency which necessitates emergency surgical decompression.

Differentiating between CES and back pain

In order differentiate between cauda equina syndrome and generalised lower back pain, medical professionals must consider a patient’s symptoms in their entirety.

Cauda equina syndrome is a constellation of symptoms that together should alert medical professionals to the presence of spinal nerve compression. These are called the red flag symptoms of cauda equine syndrome and include:-

If a patient is presenting lower back pain alongside these other symptoms, he/she must be urgently referred to hospital for specialist review.

Failure to diagnose cauda equina syndrome

Sadly medical professionals do not always differentiate between cauda equina syndrome and generalised lower back pain. Consequently there is a delay in diagnosis and treatment, meaning a patient does not undergo emergency surgical decompression in the early stages of the condition. If this causes a patient to suffer complications that could otherwise have been avoided, there will be grounds for a medical negligence claim.

Cauda equina claim

If doctors failed to realise that you were suffering from cauda equina syndrome, and this has caused you unnecessary harm, please get in touch with us today. You could be entitled to claim compensation.

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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