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Is Incontinence a Sign of Cauda Equina Syndrome?

Is Incontinence a Sign of Cauda Equina Syndrome?Incontinence of either bladder or bowel can definitely be a sign that you are developing cauda equina syndrome. An MRI referral may be needed as a matter of emergency.

Signs of cauda equina syndrome

If you are developing cauda equina syndrome, you are likely to be experiencing lower back and leg pain as well as suffering any incontinence issues. You may also be aware of a tingling or loss of sensation in the saddle region. These symptoms could all add up to a picture of cauda equina syndrome.

Causes of cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome can occur when the cauda equina nerves at the base of the spine become compressed or squashed. This will be due to some condition affecting the spine such as a tumour, a herniated disc or trauma of some sort.

The impact of the nerve compression will mean that the nerves find it increasingly difficult to perform their intended function. Since the function of the cauda equina nerves is to pass messages of sensation to the brain from the pelvic region and to instruct muscular movement in that area, a loss of function will mean that the bladder and bowel develop difficulties in functioning properly.

Bladder and bowel symptoms

These effects may be experienced by the patient in a number of ways:

Responding to signs of incontinence

If a patient visits their GP or A&E unit with symptoms of incontinence as well as lower back pain, they should undergo a thorough assessment of their symptoms to assess the possibility of neurological (nerve) damage.

It is likely that the patient will require an emergency MRI scan in order to confirm a diagnosis.

If the patient is considered to be developing cauda equina syndrome, diagnosis and treatment are likely to be a medical emergency.

If the patient is starting to demonstrate some bladder dysfunction yet still retains some sensation of having a full bladder and the need to urinate, they will probably need decompression surgery within hours. A delay at this point could well mean that the patient loses control of their bladder and, possibly, their bowel completely.

Medical negligence

A failure to recognise the significance of bowel and bladder symptoms in a patient can mean that the patient misses the optimum moment for surgery.

If the patient subsequently suffers a poor, long-term outcome as a result, the medical professional who assessed them may be considered to have acted negligently.

Speak to a solicitor

If you or a loved one are suffering the appalling, permanent impact of complete cauda equina syndrome due to a failure to recognise your red flag symptoms, contact us to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor.

It may be appropriate to consider a claim for 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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