Five Facts About Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina Syndrome can cause life-changing complications if misdiagnosed. Our latest article delivers five important facts about this potentially life-changing condition.
Posted on August 18, 2017   By Carl_Waring

Kelly Galloway was convinced she was suffering more than sciatica when she started experiencing excruciating back pain. However, according to the Basildon, Canvey and Southend Echo, the 38-year-old mother of two was turned away six times from A&E.

Finally, on her seventh visit, an MRI scan confirmed her worst fears; she had Cauda Equina Syndrome. She was rushed in for emergency surgery. Doctors told her she was extremely lucky not to be permanently paralysed.

In addition to the severe back pain, severe numbness in her groin area was not resolved by the medical treatment and due to the delay in diagnosis, may now be a permanent part of her life.

Cauda Equina Syndrome is a rare condition but failure to quickly diagnose it can cause permanent, life-changing injuries. Victims may be able to claim compensation if medical professionals fail to diagnose the condition or the condition results from receiving medical treatment for another unrelated problem.

If you have never heard of Cauda Equina Syndrome, here are five facts about the condition and how you can claim compensation if you suffer from it:

Fact 1 - Cauda Equina Syndrome is notoriously difficult to diagnose

Being relatively rare, Cauda Equina Syndrome may go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

The condition involves extreme compression of the nerves at the end of the spinal cord. Anatomically, these nerves look like a horse’s tail (hence the name of the syndrome, cauda equine is Latin for ‘horses tail’), as they extend from the lower back and down each leg.

The nerves affected by Cauda Equina Syndrome send and receive messages to and from the legs, pelvic region, and feet.

 Fact 2 – There are several causes of Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina Syndrome can be caused by a number of factors, including

  • infections or inflammation of the lower spine
  • a severely ruptured disk in the lumbar area
  • a tumour in the lower spinal region
  • congenital spine disorders

Those who lift heavy objects or have arthritis in the spine are also vulnerable.

Fact 3 - The symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome are similar to sciatica and other conditions

The symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome can vary and can reappear and disappear over time. They can also mimic other conditions such as sciatica. These factors mean Cauda Equina Syndrome can be difficult to diagnose. Doctors should, therefore, be vigilant if they are presented with any of the following symptoms:

  • weakness, pain or numbness in the legs which affect mobility
  • a severe pain in the lower back
  • sciatica
  • loss of sensation in the legs, lower back or buttocks
  • trouble urinating or defecating (retention) or an inability to control it (incontinence)
  • suddenly having trouble getting an erection or loss of sensation during sexual intercourse

Fact 4 - Cauda Equina Syndrome can cause life-changing complications

Immediate surgery is essential as soon as Cauda Equina Syndrome is diagnosed. The faster surgery is performed to release the compression on the nerves, the less likely permanent damage will occur.

If the syndrome is dealt with early, a life of pain, reduced mobility, and possible incontinence may be avoided. If bowel or bladder control has been compromised, it may be restored over several years, and radiation or chemotherapy can regulate tumours.

But if surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerves is delayed because your GP or another doctor has failed to spot the signs of Cauda Equina Syndrome then the damage may become permanent.

Sufferers may end up confined to a wheelchair, or having to rely on crutches to walk. Chronic pain may also become a permanent fixture of their lives. However, the most socially isolating and devastating aspect is the loss of bowel and bladder control.

Because Cauda Equina Syndrome is a rare condition, it can be difficult for sufferers to obtain and receive the support they need, even from the medical profession.

 Fact 5 – You can claim compensation for Cauda Equina Syndrome

If your Cauda Equina Syndrome resulted from your doctor failing to diagnose the condition, or they caused your condition through negligently performing an unrelated medical procedure such as a lumber fusion, you may be able to claim compensation. Compensation can help fund the cost of rehabilitation and counselling to deal with the depression and anxiety you may have developed as a consequence of debilitating symptoms. It can also contribute to the expense of any adjustments you need to make to your home to accommodate the use of a wheelchair.

To start the compensation process, you need to engage an experienced medical negligence solicitor who understands Cauda Equina Syndrome. They will examine your medical records and organise a doctor to put together a rehabilitation program. Most importantly, you will receive the advice and support you need to start rebuilding your life.

At Mayiclaim we work with a large number of experienced personal injury solicitors and are therefore able to choose the most appropriate solicitor for you based on your specific set of circumstances. All our recommended solicitors work on a no win, no fee basis. Please contact Mayiclaim on 0800 756 7774 or fill out our online quick claim form.