Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) is a rare but serious medical condition that occurs when there is a compression or damage to the cauda equina, a bundle of spinal nerves located at the lower end of the spinal cord within the spinal canal. The term "cauda equina" is Latin for "horse's tail," which describes the appearance of the nerve bundle as it extends downward within the spinal canal.

CES is typically caused by a large herniated disc, spinal tumor, infection, trauma, or other conditions that put pressure on the cauda equina nerves. The compression of these nerves can lead to a range of symptoms, which can be severe and require prompt medical attention. Common symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome include:

  1. Severe lower back pain.
  2. Radiating pain, numbness, or weakness in the lower back, buttocks, thighs, and legs.
  3. Loss of sensation in the saddle area (area that would come into contact with a saddle when sitting).
  4. Loss of bladder and bowel control, including urinary or fecal incontinence.
  5. Sexual dysfunction.
  6. Weakness or paralysis in the lower extremities.

Cauda Equina Syndrome is considered a medical emergency because the compression of the cauda equina nerves can lead to permanent damage if not treated promptly. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial to prevent irreversible neurological deficits.

Treatment for Cauda Equina Syndrome typically involves surgical decompression to relieve the pressure on the affected nerves. The specific surgical approach may vary depending on the underlying cause of the compression and the patient's overall health. In some cases, emergency surgery is necessary to prevent further neurological damage and restore normal nerve function.

If someone is experiencing symptoms that may indicate Cauda Equina Syndrome, they should seek immediate medical attention. A healthcare professional, often a neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon, will evaluate the situation and recommend the appropriate diagnostic tests and treatment options to address the condition and prevent long-term complications.

Spine Physicians Institute treats back pain, neck pain, herniated discs, stenosis and other spine problems. Patients come to the spine center from across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Dr. Sethuraman is one of few Mayo Clinic fellowship-trained spine surgeons in the North Texas area. A fellowship is the highest level of medical education in the U.S.

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