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How Does Cauda Equina Syndrome Start?

Cauda equina syndrome is a serious neurological condition that starts when the cauda equina nerves are compressed.

What are cauda equina nerves?

The cauda equina nerves are located at the bottom of the spinal cord. They enable sensation in the peri-anal region, and enable function in the legs, genitals and pelvic organs. The cauda equina nerves therefore have a very important purpose, and without them we would not have:

What causes cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome is when the cauda equina nerves are compressed and damaged. Cauda equina syndrome starts as soon as this compression causes the onset of neurological symptoms.

The cauda equina nerves can become compressed in a number of ways. The most common is a slipped disc in the lower back. Other causes include spinal infections, inflammatory conditions, spinal tumours and traumatic accidents.

The nerves are very sensitive, so within hours of the compression starting they will begin to suffer injury. This will result in the onset of symptoms, such as:

These symptoms are known as the ‘red flag’ symptoms of cauda equina syndrome, so-called because they should act as a signal, warning medical practitioners that the nerves may have become compressed.

Diagnosing cauda equina syndrome

Clinicians should recognise the red flag symptoms of cauda equina syndrome and take immediate action to confirm a diagnosis. This can be achieved with an emergency MRI scan.

The MRI scan must be carried out on an emergency basis, as cauda equina syndrome must be treated shortly after the onset of symptoms. If there is a delay, the nerves will be permanently damaged and cannot be repaired.

If medical practitioners fail to diagnose cauda equina syndrome shortly after it starts, there may be a case of medical negligence.

Talk to a solicitor

For more information about medical negligence and cauda equina syndrome, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today. We will advise whether your cauda equina syndrome has been made worse due to substandard medical care. If so, you could be in a position to claim compensation.

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