Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is a medical emergency. If the condition is not diagnosed and treated quickly, sufferers may develop permanent paralysis and incontinence. If a doctor fails to diagnose and treat cauda equina syndrome correctly, the sufferer may be able to claim financial compensation for the injuries that they have sustained and the impact that they will have on them for the remainder of their lives.

The cauda equina are a collection of nerve roots located at the base of the spinal cord which supply the muscles of the legs, pelvic organs and genitals. Cauda equina syndrome is where these nerve roots become compressed. The common causes of the compression include:

  • Spinal disc herniation
  • Narrowing of the spinal canal (‘stenosis’)
  • Spinal tumour
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Trauma
  • Surgical error

The symptoms of cauda equina syndrome include:

  • Bilateral sciatica
  • Weakness or numbness in one or both legs that is severe or getting worse
  • Numbness around or under the genitals or around the anus
  • Problems with bladder and/or bowel function including difficulty with urination or faecal incontinence
  • Sexual dysfunction

These symptoms can develop quickly and they must be treated as a medical emergency. The longer that the cauda equina are compressed, the more extensive the long term damage will be. Spinal surgery (called lumbar decompression) is required within 24-48 hours of symptoms developing to release the pressure on the nerves and to reduce the extent of nerve damage. In the worst cases those who have not received treatment in time have suffered irreversible effects resulting in lower back pain, incontinence, loss of sexual function and paralysis.

It is important to highlight that there are situations where delayed diagnosis and treatment are not the fault of the medical professional, and it is possible that despite appropriate treatment some patients will not recover normal function.

The specialist medical negligence solicitors at Curtis Solicitors have experience of acting for clients in claims that there has been a negligent failure or delay in diagnosing and treating cauda equina syndrome or that negligent surgery has caused the condition. We work with our clients to identify the impact that the medical negligence has had on them and, with the benefit of independent expert evidence, work to secure financial compensation to enable you to meet your future needs.

If you wish to discuss a potential clinical negligence claim with our specialist solicitors you can email us, use our online enquiry form, or call us for free on 0800 008 7450.