Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina Syndrome is caused by extreme pressure and swelling of the nerves at the base of the spinal chord, the nerves become compressed and it should always be treated as a medical emergency.

The potential long-term effects of Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) include paralysis and incontinence if treatment is delayed, so doctors need to be able to recognise the warning signs associated with CES.

Warning signs of Cauda Equina Syndrome

  • Severe back pain
  • Incontinence
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Loss of sensation around the inner thighs and buttocks
  • Pain/ weakness in one or both legs
  • Bladder/bowel incontinence

If the symptoms are ignored or misdiagnosed the neurological effects can be devastating – it is important patients are referred for neurosurgical/spinal reviews and urgent decompression surgery to relieve the pressure on the spine and avoid life changing consequences.

Back Pain and Cauda Equina

Lower back pain is exceedingly common and, in the vast majority of cases, it clears up on its own without treatment, but occasionally it can be more serious. At the upper lumbar region of the spinal canal the nerves of the pelvis and legs branch out from the end of the spinal cord in a 'horse's tail' effect.

A prolapsed (slipped) disc can lead to CES,  a tumour, abscess or infection, prolapsed or herniated disc or fracture in the spine is left untreated it can also lead to CES, other causes include:

  • Injury (not necessarily a major injury)
  • Inflammation
  • Tumour
  • Infection (particularly abscess)
  • Severe bony disease of the spine
  • Spinal anaesthesia
  • Congenital abnormality of the spine
  • Damage during surgery

The symptoms can be missed after a back injury, surgery, trauma or indeed any back condition.

Compensation for Cauda Equina Syndrome

Clients come to us after a persistent back problem and often a niggling feeling that something has gone wrong in their treatment, not realising they are suffering from CES.

It is not always spotted and recognised, smaller hospitals may not be equipped to deal with serious spinal injuries or a delayed scan could mean the condition deteriorates and it may be too late to prevent permanent nerve damage.

The life changing impact of Cauda Equina Syndrome, when not adequately treated, can lead to serious financial implications.  The lifelong paralysis/inability that can be bought about by negligently treated CES could ultimately mean that you require full time and lifelong care and also it may mean that the home in which you live is no longer suitable for your needs. 

In these circumstances the law seeks to award compensation to help you deal with those continuing problems and make life as comfortable as possible. 

How do I make a claim?

All of these cases have to be looked at on their individual facts. However, if you feel there has been a delay in diagnosing and treating your CES, then I would urge you to call 0161 785 3500, have a chat with one of our team and we can hopefully get the settlement you need to support your future.

Solicitor Jaqueline White talks about the devastating effects of CES: