Why is Cauda Equina Syndrome an emergency?

Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) is a serious medical condition caused by the compression of the Cauda Equina, a bundle of nerves at the base of the spinal cord. If not treated promptly, it can lead to lifelong health problems, including chronic pain, incontinence and loss of sexual function.

CES is most commonly caused by rupture of one of the lumbar discs that sit between the bones in the spine (vertebrae). Commonly known as a ‘slipped disc’, this places pressure on the Cauda Equina nerves, leading to Cauda Equina Syndrome.

Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome include lower back pain, pain radiating down one or both legs, numbness or weakness of the legs, buttocks or between the legs and issues with bladder control, bowel control and sexual function. CES is often mistaken for other types of back pain, so the other symptoms are often critical for a successful diagnosis.

Cauda Equina Syndrome requires immediate treatment with surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerves. If this is not done, permanent damage can be caused to the nerves which cannot be repaired. This can lead to a patient being left with the symptoms of CES for the rest of their life.

How Cauda Equina Syndrome is treated

When Cauda Equina Syndrome is diagnosed, a patient will be referred for emergency surgery. The most common procedure used is a laminectomy, also known as ‘lumbar decompression surgery’. This involves removing part of a vertebra to open up space around the Cauda Equina and relieves the pressure on the nerves. This can also allow for the prolapsed disc to be removed, fixing the ultimate cause of the condition.

Following surgery, it is normal to feel a degree of soreness around the site of the operation. Some of the symptoms of CES may continue for a while after the surgery, including numbness and tingling of the legs, buttocks and other affected areas. In general, these symptoms should disappear over time, but this can take up to two years.

However, some people may be left with some degree of ongoing symptoms, especially if their condition was not diagnosed or treated swiftly enough. This is because prolonged pressure on the nerves of the Cauda Equina can cause permanent nerve damage which the body is unable to repair. There is currently no effective treatment for this type of nerve damage, meaning the patient will have to learn to live with the symptoms.

Claiming compensation for misdiagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome

If you are dealing with long-term health damage due to the misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome , you may be able to claim medical negligence compensation. This can help you to cope with the financial impact on your life, such as any effect on your ability to work, as well as providing compensation for your pain, suffering and other non-financial costs.

Cauda Equina claims can be complicated, however, requiring a high standard of proof and careful handling, so it is strongly recommended to seek expert legal help from lawyers specialising in these types of claims before moving forward.

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