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Early Warning Signs of Cauda Equina Syndrome

It is essential doctors recognise the early warning signs of cauda equina syndrome, or a patient will be left with permanent neurological complications.

What is cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome is when the cauda equina nerves are compressed and damaged.

The cauda equina nerves sit at the base of the spine and spread downwards through the pelvis and into the upper legs. They control feeling and movement in the legs, feet and saddle area (which incorporates the buttocks, rectum, bladder and perineum).

When compressed, the blood supply to the nerves is disrupted. The lack of blood and oxygen will cause the nerves to become damaged and function will begin to deteriorate.

What are the early warning signs of cauda equina syndrome?

When the cauda equina nerves begin to lose function, the individual concerned will notice the onset of certain symptoms. These should be considered as the early warning signs of cauda equina syndrome and together they are known as the ‘red flag symptoms’. They include:-

Recognising the warning signs

These symptoms usually prompt someone to seek medical assistance – either from their GP or at A&E. Either way, the medical practitioner should recognise the symptoms as being suggestive of spinal nerve compression.

There is a chance that a patient’s symptoms are completely unrelated to cauda equina syndrome. However, it is best to check whether or not the nerves are being compressed, as cauda equina syndrome can lead to permanent complications if not treated in time.

Therefore a medical practitioner should recognise the early warnings signs of cauda equina syndrome and send a patient for an urgent MRI scan. If the nerves are being compressed, a patient should proceed straight to surgery.

Failure to recognise the warning signs

Unfortunately doctors do not always recognise the early warning signs of nerve compression. This means the condition is not treated in the beginning stages when treatment is most effective. Instead, there is a delay in diagnosis, causing a patient to progress to the ‘complete’ stage. At this point the nerves have become irreparably harmed and cannot be restored.

If you or your loved one has suffered cauda equina complications because doctors did not recognise the early warning signs, you could be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation. Contact us today 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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