Cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is a medical emergency and occurs when a large collection of nerves in the lower back suddenly become compressed. This may be due to a large lumbar disc herniation, surgery, trauma, fracture, hematoma or a tumour. Regardless of the cause, a space-occupying lesion (thing) is placing pressure on the cauda equine (bunch of nerves in the low back) and immediate surgery is needed. Cauda equina means horses tail.

Symptoms of cauda equina syndrome

The cauda equina is a collection of nerves that supply the sensation to the pelvis and control bowel and bladder function. Therefore, the most common initial symptom is ‘saddle anesthesia’ and this involves numbness in the area of the anus, genitals, buttocks and back of the legs. Urinary retention and difficulty emptying bladder is common. There may also be urinary or fecal incontinence. Because the cauda equina contains nerves that control the muscles of the legs muscle weakness is common and this may progress to paraplegia is left. Low back pain and sciatica type symptoms down both legs are common.

Treatment of cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina is a medical emergency and requires surgery to decompress the spine (take pressure away). This is where the structure compressing the cauda equina is removed. This must be performed within 24 hours of the initial symptoms. At Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) should our chiropractors or physiotherapist suspect this condition prompt medical referral would be given. We are extremely experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of spinal condition such as back and neck pain and you are in good hands.

Causes of low back pain

The following conditions are common causes of low back pain.