Cauda Equina Syndrome: Time to Take Action

12 Dec 2019

Cauda Equina Sydrome is extremely rare, affecting up to 3 in every 100,000 people. However, if it is not diagnosed and treated rapidly it could have devastating effects for individuals involved. As a result of its masked appearance, unfortunately the clinical negligence and personal injury team at Trethowans see far too many cases involving misdiagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome.

Cauda Equina Syndrome is a condition that is caused by nerve damage to the nerves situated at the end of the spinal cord (Cauda Equina). The most common cause of Cauda Equina Syndrome is from a ‘slipped disc’, which could occur from simple movements such as bending down. When a disc slips, the Cauda Equina can become compressed causing pain, numbness, problems with bowel / bladder control and difficulty with sexual function. The onset can be rapid as with a ‘slipped disc’ or gradual.

One of the main issues is the lack of knowledge surrounding the condition. Individuals with the symptoms are failing to recognise that they may have a serious condition when they are presented with back pain or pins and needles. Furthermore, medical professionals can struggle to treat the condition when they are presented with the symptoms. The symptoms are often associated with minor injuries or illnesses and are not necessarily attributed to such a serious condition.

If Cauda Equina Syndrome is suspected, medical attention should be sought immediately. It is typically diagnosed through Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans or Computed Tomography (CT) scans. Cauda Equina Syndrome is a medical emergency and immediate surgical decompression is necessary in order to relieve the symptoms and ensure that they do not persist. If untreated, it can lead to paralysis as well as symptoms, such as problems with bladder / bowel function, becoming permanent.

It is therefore vital that the ‘red flags’ of this condition, including numbness and difficulty with bladder / bowel function, are at the forefront of individuals and medical professionals minds to ensure that the devastating results of Cauda Equina Syndrome can be minimalised.

If you have been misdiagnosed then please do get in touch with the clinical negligence and personal injury solicitors here at Trethowans on 0800 2800 421, as we may be able to assist you.


Emily Thompson