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Slow Onset of Cauda Equina Syndrome

If Cauda Equina Syndrome develops very slowly, a diagnosis can be difficult to make. Nevertheless, doctors should be aware of patients whose symptoms do not alleviate, and should be sure to carry out further investigations to discover the exact nature of the problem. If they fail to do so and a case of Cauda Equina Syndrome goes unnoticed, there could be grounds for a medical negligence claim.

Gradual development of Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina Syndrome can develop in one of two ways. Either it will develop very rapidly, reaching the complete stage within a matter of hours, or it will develop gradually, reaching the complete stage within weeks or months. In the latter case – slow onset of Cauda Equina Syndrome – a diagnosis can be difficult to make. Indeed, a GP may initially believe a patient to be suffering from generalised lower back pain and make a referral to a physiotherapist. A patient may also show signs of improvement, suggesting that treatment is effective.

Recognising Cauda Equina Syndrome

However, it will soon become apparent that a correct diagnosis has not been made. It is very likely that a patient will return to their GP complaining that their symptoms have not alleviated. Alarm bells should then start ringing, as a medical professional should recognise that a more serious problem such as Cauda Equina Syndrome is at play.

Tests should then be organised to assess whether or not the cauda equina nerves are being compressed. Initially this will involve a physical examination to assess motor function in the lower limbs, anal tone and perineal sensation. An MRI scan should also be arranged.

Claiming for a delay in diagnosis

If a medical professional fail to undertake further investigations, causing a case of Cauda Equina Syndrome to remain undiagnosed for a prolonged period of time, there could be grounds for a compensation claim. This is because Cauda Equina Syndrome is a very serious condition that requires early treatment. If the nerves are not decompressed quickly enough, severe neurological complications will occur.

Therefore it is vital medical professionals remain wary of Cauda Equina Syndrome, especially in patients with chronic back pain and sciatica. If they fail to carry out further investigations, a substandard level of medical care will have been provided. If a patient is injured as a result – for example, he or she has suffered additional complications that could otherwise have been avoided with early treatment – it is important to speak to a legal expert. A solicitor who specialises in medical negligence will be able to advise you upon your legal position, helping you to ascertain whether or not you are in a position to claim.

To speak to a legal expert, contact us at the Cauda Equina Solicitors. We will be more than happy to discuss your case, helping you to understand what options are available.

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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