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What Is The Cauda Equina?

In this article we explore the bundle of nerves called the cauda equina, explaining where they are located, what they do and what will happen if the nerves are damaged.

The cauda equina

The cauda equina is a bundle of nerves located at the bottom of the spinal cord. The term ‘cauda equina’ is Latin for horse’s tail because this is exactly what they look like.

The bundle of nerves is made up of various different nerve roots, including the paired lumbar nerve roots second to fifth, and the coccygeal nerves first to fifth. They all begin at the bottom of the spinal cord (called the conus medullaris) and spread outwards, down through the pelvic region, the buttocks and upper legs.

What does the cauda equina do?

The cauda equina nerves enable the following:-

What happens if the cauda equina is damaged?

Although rare, it is possible for the cauda equina nerves to become compressed. This can happen in a variety of ways, including:-

The cauda equina nerves are sensitive, so if they do become compressed, they will quickly become damaged. The individual in question will then begin to experience a loss of function. This will be evident from the onset of certain symptoms, such as:-

When these symptoms arise because of cauda equina compression, a person will have the condition known as cauda equina syndrome.

Managing cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is a medical emergency. This means it must be treated with surgical decompression as quickly as possible if serious complications are to be avoided. If treatment is delayed, a patient will be left with long-term problems such as urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction and partial/total paralysis.

Even though cauda equina syndrome is rare, medical practitioners in the UK should be able to make a timely diagnosis and treat the condition in time. If medical practitioners do not take reasonable steps when managing cauda equina syndrome and this leads to unnecessary complications, there will be grounds for a medical negligence compensation claim.

To find out more about claiming for cauda equina syndrome, please contact us today.

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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