What is Cauda Equina?
Eddie Jones, a cauda equina specialist solicitor at JMW, explains cauda equina syndrome.
Cauda equina is a type of serious spinal injury that can devastate lives due to the distressing long-term problems it causes, including incontinence, lingering pain, impaired mobility and sexual dysfunction. When it first strikes, urgent surgery is required to stop its effects from becoming permanent.
Lower back pain is exceedingly common and, in the vast majority of cases, it clears up on its own without treatment. However, occasionally it can be a symptom of something 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. Anything that causes a narrowing of the spinal canal in this area - resulting in a compression of this particular bundle of nerves - is classed as cauda equina syndrome (CES).
These nerves are susceptible to injury, particularly those supplying the bladder and bowel. The most common cause of CES is a prolapsed (slipped) disc, but other causes may include:
- Injury to the lumbar spine
- A tumour
- Infection (particularly abscesses)
- Damage during surgery
For more information about CES, such as what it is, the symptoms to look out for, who it affects and where to go for help, check out our cauda equina infographic and click on the image below.