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What Causes Cauda Equina Syndrome?

Cauda Equina Syndrome is a painful spinal condition that compresses the lower portion of the spine, usually resulting in severe pain and issues with motor or nerve function in various areas below the hips. For some, this condition can result in loss of bladder control, in others, severe lower back pain, or weakness in the legs. Because this condition is so painful and debilitating, it often requires extensive treatment, sometimes involving spinal surgery.

When dealing with a serious condition like CES, the afflicted person is often left wondering what event or circumstances triggered their disorder. While some cases of CES come about due to physical trauma, like car accidents and sports injuries, some individuals develop the condition through more unsavory means, like medical malpractice.

If you or someone you love has Cauda Equina Syndrome, make sure you know how it was caused and what can be done to treat it.

Understanding CES

The spine is a complex system of nerves, tissues, and bone, and when anything becomes misaligned or injured, it can affect the entire spinal column. If the lower portion of the spine becomes severely compressed, the bones may shift, effectively pinching the lower spinal cord, damaging the nerves that dwell there. If the “pinch” is extremely severe, it may trigger more serious problems, such as the development of Cauda Equina Syndrome.

Treating CES

Cauda Equina Syndrome is an extremely serious type of spinal condition, and it requires emergency evaluation, otherwise a delay in treatment could result in severe damage. In many cases, the afflicted person must receive spinal surgery within the first two days after the symptoms began, or they could be permanently disabled.

Someone suffering from CES may suffer from extreme lower back pain, problems with bladder control, pain or weakness in the legs, numbness in the groin or bottom, sexual dysfunction, or leg pain. If these symptoms present themselves, the patient should seek medical treatment immediately.

Common causes of Cauda Equina Syndrome include:

  • Trauma to the back: Any physical trauma to the back could compress the lower spine, sometimes resulting in the development of CES.
  • Epidural hematoma of the spine: If blood gathers along the spinal canal, it can cause damaging swelling, which may injure the spinal cord and other nerves.
  • Medical mistakes involving spinal procedures: If a doctor is negligent, careless, or otherwise ill-qualified, they may trigger CES during another type of spinal procedure. For example, misplaced medical screws, excessive spinal anesthesia, or an erroneous spinal tap could result in additional complications.
  • Spinal stenosis: When the small spinal canal in the lower back is compressed, it can pinch the nerves in the spinal cord. 
  • Vertebral fracture: In an especially jarring back injury, the bones of the spine can fracture, which can lead to additional spinal issues, like CES.

If you or someone you love shows symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome, seek medical attention immediately. Although the most prevalent treatment involves spinal surgery, the issue can also be treated with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. If left untreated, you may be at risk of permanent neurological complications.

Untreated cases of Cauda Equina Syndrome can result in the following complications:

  • Bladder incontinence
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Increased risk of sepsis
  • Neurogenic bladder
  • Pain or numbness in the legs, groin, and genital area
  • Paralysis
  • Sexual Dysfunction

Coping with the pain and complications attached to Cauda Equina Syndrome can be life-altering, and if your condition occurred because of doctor negligence or medical malpractice, you may have a valid legal claim. Our team of attorneys at Cullan & Cullan can help you pursue justice and compensation from the liable party, however complex or difficult your case may seem. Many of our attorneys are also medical doctors, and we have ample resources at our disposal to use towards your case. If you were wrongfully injured, our medical-legal team is prepared to help.

Do you have an injury claim involving Cauda Equina Syndrome? Contact Cullan & Cullan to discuss your legal options with our experienced attorneys.


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