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Slipped Disc Cauda Equina Syndrome

Slipped Disc Cauda Equina SyndromeA slipped disc can cause cauda equina syndrome which requires emergency surgery to avoid a lifetime of lower body dysfunction.

A slipped disc

A slipped, or herniated, disc is where one of the discs which act as cushions between the spine’s vertebrae bulges out. This is caused by the central part of the disc pushing through the surrounding layer.

This can cause pain which usually improves with rest and exercise and time.

A slipped disc can occur at any point in the spine and is not necessarily a cause of cauda equina syndrome.

However, a slipped disc in the lumbar (lower) region of the back, where most occur, might be the trigger for cauda equina syndrome. If the slipped disc puts pressure on the cauda equina nerves, that might cause the nerves to fail in their function.

Cauda equina nerve function

The cauda equina nerves pass messages between the central nervous system and the lower body. This means that, if the nerves are not working properly, messages of feeling or sensation from the bladder, saddle area and legs may not reach the brain. The patient may not realise, for example, that they want to urinate.

Equally, instructions from the brain to the lower body may not reach their intended target muscles. In this instance, the patient may lose the ability to flex their foot because the message to do so no longer gets through to the appropriate muscle.

Another example might be the loss of control over the anal muscles, leading to anal incontinence.

Cauda equina surgery

When the cauda equina nerves start to lose function, it is possible for this to be restored with decompression surgery. However, surgery needs to be undertaken at the optimum moment in order for it to have the greatest chance of success.

The symptoms of the condition need to have progressed sufficiently for it to be clear to medical professionals that the patient may have a compressed nerve. However, it dysfunction is too far advanced, then recovery may not be possible.

Surgery is best carried out prior to the patient losing awareness and control of urination. Once loss of function extends to the bladder, the chances of recovery of all areas of nerve function seems to be diminished.

Diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome

Therefore, diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome needs to as prompt as possible once symptoms have developed.

If a patient attends their GP or A&E with some of the following symptoms, they either need an emergency referral for an MRI scan or advice to attend A&E as an emergency if more symptoms develop.

Medical negligence

A failure to do either of the above actions might be considered to be a failing of medical care and might prompt a claim for compensation.

If you are suffering with long-term symptoms of cauda equina syndrome due to a delay in diagnosis, contact us to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor.

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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