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Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome, or “horse’s tail” in Latin, is a rare disease targeting the nerve roots in the lumbar (lower) spinal cord. Given its seriousness, CES may require immediate medical attention.

The onset of CES can cause serious threats to your overall health. CES involves an essential part of the spine, the one responsible for transmitting messages from the brain to and from the pelvic organs and lower limbs. As any pinched nerve back damage can lead to devastating problems, immediate medical attention is vital.

Causes of Cauda Equina Syndrome

There is a bundle of nerves called the cauda equine located at the end of the spinal column. Syndrome indicators may develop when these nerve roots are compressed and paralyzed. A pinched nerve in back regions can cut off local movement and sensation, especially in a nerve responsible for bowel, bladder, or sexual function.

CES develops either naturally at birth or through violent and/or penetrating injuries, such as falls, vehicle crashes, gunshots or stabbings.  The trauma of a lumbar puncture or spinal anesthesia may cause CES, as can ruptured disks. The narrowing of the spinal canal from spinal stenosis due to degenerative diseases (osteoarthritis) may also cause this condition. Severe spondylolisthesis, stress fractures, and inflammatory conditions like Paget’s disease can lead to the cause of CES. Finally, tumors and lesions may also cause CES by altering pinched nerve function.

Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome

When dealing with CES, early diagnosis and treatment is essential but not always simple. The typical symptoms vary in intensity and may take a while to appear. Most patients may experience bladder and/or bowl dysfunction, resulting in the inability to retain or hold waste and urine.  They may also experience changes to or the loss of sensation in multiple areas. These areas include between the legs, the inner thighs, the back of the legs, over the buttocks, and around the feet and heels. Patients may observe pain, numbness, or weakness that spreads to one or both legs and causes stumbling or difficulty in rising. Sexual dysfunction may be a side effect of this condition as well. CES can lead to major health problems such as permanent paralysis, impaired bladder and/or bowel control, and the loss of sexual sensation.

Taking Action with Cauda Equina Syndrome

CES is a serious condition and immediate medical attention is critical. Physicians will usually diagnose it with MRI or CT scans and surgery may be necessary. Patients suffering from CES are encouraged ro visit the medical specialists at  Spine Health Institute for any degenerative spinal condition. You can contact us at 866.986.7497.