Cauda equina syndrome is a serious condition involving the nerve root. There is pressure on the nerves at the base of the spinal cord. This pressure on the nerves prevents them from functioning properly. If the pressure is not promptly managed, the condition can lead to lasting nerve damage.
The usual cause of cauda equina syndrome is a slipped disc. Other possible causes include infection and even bone cancer. The condition is considered rare. It usually occurs among adults but can manifest at any age.
Indications of cauda equina syndrome
The signs and symptoms of cauda equina syndrome occur abruptly and progress rapidly. In some cases, the symptoms progress in a slow manner.
- Low back pain but not present in all cases.
- Issues with the bladder and bowel function
- Sexual issues
- Numbness in the saddle area
- Weakness in one or both legs
How is it diagnosed?
A diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome is usually based on the symptoms as well as results of the examination. An individual suspected with the condition should be taken to a healthcare facility right away.
An MRI is usually performed to confirm a diagnosis. Other tests such as a CT scan and bladder control testing can be done as well.
Immediate surgery is oftentimes an option but not always required to alleviate the pressure on the nerves and prevents lasting nerve damage.
It is important to note that the treatment otherwise depends on the exact cause of cauda equina syndrome. If due to an infection, antibiotics are usually given.
The outlook for this condition depends on the cause and how quickly treatment was started. If diagnosis and treatment is delayed, it increases the risk for lasting nerve damage affecting the bowel, bladder and the legs.