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Spondylitic Changes and Cauda Equina Syndrome

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that affects the lower back. It can lead to a narrowing of the spinal canal, resulting in a condition called cauda equina syndrome.

If you get cauda equina syndrome because of spondylitic changes, you need to undergo immediate surgical decompression. This will alleviate the pressure being placed upon the nerves.

If doctors fail to notice the spondylitic changes, meaning the cauda equina syndrome is not treated, there could be grounds for a medical negligence compensation claim. Contact us to find out more.

Ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis in the lower back. Specifically, it causes the ligaments in the lower spine to become inflamed at the point where they attach to the vertebrae. This will lead to symptoms such as back pain and stiffness in the lower back.

It is not known why people get ankylosing spondylitis. It affects around 1 in 1,000 people in the UK and it more common amongst men, and in people between the ages of 20 and 30.

The condition can be very up and down, meaning the patient may not have symptoms all of the time. Ankylosing spondylitis can also advance with time, as the inflammation can prompt bone to form within the ligaments.

These bony growths can become increasingly bigger, eventually becoming so large that the vertebrae become fused together.

Spondylitic changes and cauda equina syndrome

Medical practitioners need to keep a close eye on spondylitic changes as it can lead to other associated diseases. Spondylitic changes can be identified on an x-ray.

One possibility is that the spondylitic changes will cause a narrowing of the intervertebral discs. This occurs due to the abnormal bone growth, which is known medically as osteophyte formations.

If ankylosing spondylitis does result in a narrowing of the spinal canal, it can squash the surrounding nerves, including the cauda equina nerves which sit at the base of the spinal cord.

When the cauda equina nerves are compressed, it will damage the nerves, leading to another condition called cauda equina syndrome.

Treating cauda equina syndrome

If a patient with ankylosing spondylitis develops cauda equina syndrome, surgery must be carried out immediately to decompress the nerves. If doctors fail to do this – perhaps because they fail to notice or act upon the spondylitic changes – there could be a case of medical negligence.

To talk to a solicitor about claiming for cauda equina syndrome, please get in touch with us today.

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