What are the first signs of Cauda Equina Syndrome?

Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) is caused by damage to the cauda equina, a bundle of nerves at the base of the spinal cord and can result in serious symptoms, including severe lower back pain, radiant leg pain (sciatica), numbness around the anus and loss of bowel and/or bladder control.

Cauda Equina Syndrome is often mistaken for less serious types of back pain and, if not treated promptly, can result in serious long-term damage. If you suspect you may be suffering from CES, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the early warning signs so you can seek appropriate medical care as soon as possible.

What to look for when you suspect Cauda Equina Syndrome




For most people, the first sign that something is wrong is when they experience severe back pain. As back pain is relatively common and can be caused by a number of factors, many people do not initially realise that they are dealing with something more serious and doctors may also overlook this warning sign.

With back pain, it is important to understand the difference between local pain and radicular pain. Local back pain tends to be a deep, aching sensation with is usually caused by irritation to soft tissue or the vertebra. Radicular pain, however, is more of a sharp, stabbing pain that is more likely due to compression of a nerve or nerves. This kind of sharp, stabbing pain may be indicative of Cauda Equina Syndrome.

The next thing Cauda Equina Syndrome sufferers tend to experience is partial or total numbness of their pelvic region. Others will experience shooting pains down one or both of their legs. In many cases, the back and leg pain combined with pelvic numbness can leave people struggling to walk.

If you experience severe persistent back pain and numbness, it is essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

How Cauda Equina Syndrome is diagnosed

The first step in diagnosing CES is normally an MRI. This can be used to identify any issues, such as a herniated disk in your lower back or inflammation of the tissue surrounding the spinal column which could be causing pressure on the cauda equina nerve bundle.

Depending on the nature of the problem, treatment may involve surgery, medication or both. Fast diagnosis and correct treatment can make a huge difference to the long-term effects of Cauda Equina Syndrome, with possible on-going issues from late treatment including chronic pain, numbness, difficulty walking and incontinence.

Dealing with the long-term effects of Cauda Equina Syndrome

If you have been left with long-term negative consequences due to misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome, you may be able to make a clinical negligence claim. This can help you to pay for any on-going treatment or support you need, as well as compensating you for the physical and emotional toll Cauda Equina Syndrome can take on you.

If you believe you may have a case for a Cauda Equina Syndrome compensation claim, it is strongly recommended to speak to a specialist medical negligence solicitor to find out more about the strength of your claim and what you need to do to get the compensation you deserve.

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