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Treatment for Cauda Equina Syndrome

In this article we explore how cauda equina syndrome should be treated, the time frame for treatment, and when cauda equina care might be considered negligent.

How should cauda equina syndrome be treated?

The cauda equina nerves are located in the lower back at the end of the spinal cord. They enable function and sensation in the bladder, bowel, genitalia and lower limbs. When the nerves become compressed (for example, because of a slipped disc) they will become damaged. Consequently function and sensation in the bladder, bowel, genitalia and lower limbs will gradually diminish. This is called cauda equina syndrome.

The only way to treat cauda equina syndrome is to relieve the pressure being placed upon the nerves. In the majority of cases, this will be achieved via decompression surgery. This procedure must be performed by a specialist surgeon who will remove whatever is pressing upon the nerves (usually a bone or ligament.)

However, it is also important for medical professionals to determine what is causing the compression, as this will dictate whether or not any other treatment is required. For example, if the tissue round the spine is inflamed, anti-inflammatory medication must be administered. If a patient has a spinal infection, antibiotics must be given. Or if a spinal tumour has developed, a cancer treatment plan must be devised.

Only by diagnosing the underlying cause can cauda equina syndrome be fully treated. Otherwise the nerves may continue to be put under pressure, something which can lead to devastating complications.

Time frame for cauda equina syndrome treatment

Cauda equina syndrome must be treated as quickly as possible. If the condition is acute, treatment should be provided within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. This is because the nerves will quickly become so damaged that the injury will be irreparable. When this happens, a patient will be left with permanent neurological complications such as urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction. Therefore time really is of the essence as there is only a small window of opportunity in which to provide effective treatment.

Failure to treat cauda equina syndrome

If medical professionals do not provide treatment within this time frame – despite the fact a patient is presenting the characteristic symptoms of cauda equina syndrome – there could be a case of medical negligence. This is because a reasonably competent medical professional should be able to recognise the symptoms of spinal nerve compression and appreciate the need for urgent treatment.

If you have suffered complications because your cauda equina syndrome was not treated in time, contact us today to discuss making a compensation claim.

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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