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An Overview of Cauda Equina Syndrome


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Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES), though a rare condition, is a serious lower back disorder that requires immediate medical attention. A bundle of nerves emerges from the lower end of the spinal cord in the lumbar spine, resembling a horsetail, hence the name “Cauda Equina”, which is the Latin for horsetail. The main function of these bundled nerves is to supply signals to the legs for sensation and control of the muscles.

The nerves are also responsible for bladder and bowel functions, including muscles that assist in urination and defecation. Under any circumstances, if several of these nerves were injured or compressed simultaneously, it would result in the disruption of the bladder and the bowel functions.

Such compressions could occur suddenly due to disc fractures or herniation, which accounts for the significant pain. However, as the symptoms vary greatly and develop gradually, diagnosing CES is quite difficult. Typically, people with spinal stenosis, bone spur formation, tumors, and spinal infections are vulnerable to Cauda Equina Syndrome.

Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome

Diagnostics and Treatment

Doctors have to perform in depth neurological and physical evaluation to diagnose Cauda Equina Syndrome, which includes performing necessary tests and reviewing the overall health. For determining CES, your doctor will;

Treatment options for Cauda Equina Syndrome mainly consist of relieving pressure on the nerves. In the case of sciatica and radiculopathy, a single nerve in compression could be treated using corticosteroid spinal injections and oral steroids. In other cases, urgent surgery is required in order to reduce the risk of any long-term effects. The surgery involves the removal of the compressing material, possibly the disc fragment directly.

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