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Paraesthesia in the Saddle Area

Paraesthesia in the saddle area is a common symptom of cauda equina syndrome. But what exactly is paraesthesia in the saddle area and does it mean you have cauda equina syndrome?

What is paraesthesia?

Paraesthesia is the medical term for pins and needles. It can cover a wide range of sensations, including burning, tingling and numbing.

Paraesthesia is commonly experienced in the hands and feet, often because the blood has been prevented from reaching the nerves. The nerves are then unable to send signals to the brain. For instance, you may sit cross-legged for too long, disrupting the flow of blood to the feet. In such cases paraesthesia will be short-term and normal sensation will regained when the blood supply has returned to normal.

However, paraesthesia can sometimes be long-lasting. This can happen if there has been an injury to the nerves, there is too much glucose in the blood (as with diabetes), or because a person is undergoing certain treatments, such as chemotherapy.

What is the saddle area?

The saddle area incorporates the buttocks, inner thighs and perineum. Should someone be sat on a horse, these are the areas of the body that would come into contact with the saddle – hence the name ‘saddle area’.

Why do I have paraesthesia in the saddle area?

Paraesthesia in the saddle area can arise for different reasons, although it is frequently associated with a condition called cauda equina syndrome.

Cauda equina syndrome is when the nerve roots at the base of the spine are compressed. This injures the nerves, in turn causing neurological dysfunction. The nerve roots have many functions, one of which is to provide sensation to the saddle area. Therefore if compression causes dysfunction, the sensation in the saddle area will be reduced or lost and the patient will experience saddle paraesthesia.

What are the other symptoms of cauda equina syndrome?

However, just because someone is suffering saddle paraesthesia does not necessarily mean they have cauda equina syndrome. The condition is characterised by a constellation of symptoms which will appear at the same time. The other symptoms of cauda equina syndrome include:

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is possible that you have cauda equina compression. You need to seek urgent medical attention as cauda equina syndrome is a medical emergency that requires immediate surgical treatment.

Legal help

If doctors fail to diagnose and treat your cauda equina syndrome – perhaps because they mistook your symptoms for a more minor condition – you will be able to claim compensation. Contact us for more information.

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