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Spinal Problems: Cauda Equina Syndrome

  • Published: Wednesday December 15, 2021
  • Category: Default
  • Tags: cauda-equina-syndrome,

Spinal Problems: Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina affects the nerve roots that tail off from the spinal cord.  Symptoms of this syndrome can have a devastating and life changing impact.  Cauda equina syndrome is usually due to spinal disc damage that has been caused in the lower part of the spine called the lumbar region.  Damage may be caused by a single excessive strain or an injury which may have caused a herniated disc.

Symptoms can either occur very rapidly, or in the alternative may present in a slow manner – beginning as lower back pain that slowly progresses to difficulties in passing water or stools (or both!) when going to the toilet.  The severity of the symptoms depends on the degree of the compression to the spinal cord and where precisely the nerve roots are being compressed.

Luckily this is a rare disorder, however because it can be such a life changing condition, it is important to be aware of the red flags.  The reason why this is so important is because there is only a small window of opportunity to receive emergency treatment.  If this window of opportunity is missed it can potentially mean that the symptoms that may be affecting you, such as foot drop, incontinence, & numbness are irreversible.

  • Urinary retention: the most common symptom. The patient’s bladder fills with urine, but does not have the usual sensation or urge to urinate.
  • Urinary and/or faecal incontinence. The overfull bladder can result in incontinence of urine. Incontinence of stool can occur due to dysfunction of the anal sphincter.
  • Sensory disturbance, which can involve numbness in the ‘saddle’ area including the, genitals and buttock region.
  • Weakness or paralysis of usually more than one nerve root. The weakness can affect the lower extremities.
  • Pain in the back and/or legs (also known as sciatica).
  • Sexual dysfunction.

Any patient with any of these red flag symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.  Medical physical examinations, MRI & CT scans can identify whether Cauda Equina Syndrome is present.

Those experiencing any of the red flag symptoms should be evaluated by a neurosurgeon or orthopaedic spine surgeon as soon as possible. Prompt surgery is the best treatment for patients with this syndrome.



We at Grayston Solicitors specialise solely in Medical Negligence Law.  If you have concerns about the medical treatment that you or a loved one has received, including misdiagnosis or failure to treat Cauda Equina Syndrome, please contact us to see if we can help you in bringing a clinical negligence claim for compensation.  You can call us on 0151 645 0055 for an obligation-free chat.  If we are able to assist you we may be able to act for you on a No Win No Fee Agreement (Conditional Fee Agreement).