Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) is classed as a spinal emergency and is a result of all or most of the nerves below the spinal cord being seriously compressed. The reason it is regarded as an emergency is that if it is not treated early enough it can cause permanent loss of bowel and bladder control, sexual function & even paralysis of the legs.

The condition is relatively rare. It can be the result of a traumatic injury to the spine, either from a fall or accident. It can also be caused by a herniated (slipped) disc, spinal stenosis (arthritic narrowing of the spinal canal), a tumour, an infection/abscess or by an accidental medical cause following spinal surgery, spinal anaesthetic or a lumbar puncture procedure.

There is no single symptom which tells you if you have this condition. It is often several symptoms and findings on examination together. Even experienced spinal experts may not always be able to conclusively diagnose the condition.

Symptoms to be aware of include:

  • Saddle paresthesia - numbness in the groin or area of contact if you were sitting on a saddle
  • Bladder disturbance - urinary retention (inability to urinate), hesitancy, incontinence, decreased sensation
  • Bowel disturbance - incontinence, constipation, loss of anal tone and sensation
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Numbness affecting one or both legs
  • Muscle weakness of the lower limbs
  • Loss of sensation in the lower limbs
  • Altered gait / restricted mobility
  • lower back pain (usually severe or unremitting)

If you are concerned that you may have the symptoms of CES,  you should seek urgent medical advice.

If you would like  to make an appointment with Mr Cass, please contact his Practice Manager on 01273 828098.

If you are very concerned you should seek an urgent appointment with your GP, call NHS Direct or attend your nearest A&E department.

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