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Although leg pain that is caused by or associated with injury, strains, and herniation of the spine is common and usually goes away with no surgery necessary, cauda equina syndrome is something to carefully watch for. This is a rare disorder that affects and damages the bundle of nerve roots located at the very base of the spinal cord. This is a serious condition and is considered to be a surgical emergency. The spinal cord is an extension of the brain and the nerve roots at the base of the spine send and receive messages from the lower part of the body to the brain. This dangerous condition occurs as a result of the nerve roots at the lower end of the spinal column becoming compressed. This compression cuts off sensation, feeling, and movement. Nerve roots that control bladder and bowel functions are located in this base area and are especially vulnerable to damage due to spinal compression and pressure. People with cauda equina syndrome need to seek immediate treatment to relieve the pressure. Failure to treat the condition can result in paralysis, impaired bladder and bowel control, sexual sensation impairment, and a myriad of other undesirable side-
Cauda equina syndrome is not very common but it can be caused by a herniated disk or other compression of the vertebrae of the spine. Other causes include tumors, infections, breaks or fractures, injury or other trauma, age and normal degeneration of the spine, or a narrowing of the spinal canal. Although early treatment of cauda equina syndrome is required to prevent permanent problems, this is a condition that can be very difficult to diagnose. Many medical professionals are unfamiliar with it and mistake symptoms for other more common conditions. Symptoms can also vary greatly in intensity and can even come on slowly over time, making it harder to notice and diagnose changes. It is important to see your doctor immediately if you experience any of these warning signs:
Bladder and/or bowel dysfunction-
Severe or worsening problems with your lower extremities.
A strange sensation between the legs in the groin and private areas, or a loss of such sensation, not associated with normal numbness or soreness from sitting or standing.
Odd sensations and tingling in the buttocks, the inner thighs, the legs, and feet/heels.
Any of these signs or any other symptoms need to be addressed with your doctor ASAP.
It is important to make an appointment immediately, and let the appointment setter know that you have the symptoms above, and that you feel your case is not only urgent but your need to get in the same day. If your specialist can’t see you that day, you may consider calling another facility. After diagnosis of CES is made your healthcare provider will present you will a plethora of options. Treatments may vary based on conditions and patient preference. Surgery may be recommended as the treatment of choice. The ultimate goal is to reverse the symptoms of neural dysfunction. If left untreated, CES can result in permanent paralysis and incontinence. If you see any of these early symptoms, ask your doctor to evaluate you for cauda equina syndrome.
Surgery is not always successful at repairing the issue and permanent nerve damage may be irreversible. You can however learn how to live with the effects of cauda equina syndrome and how to improve your quality of life. Some suggestions for patients include:
Seek help from medical personnel, occupational therapist, counselors or sex therapist-
Make sure you family or caretakers are involved and that they remain a central part of your life so you do not have to face the challenges alone.
You may also want to think about joining a cauda equina syndrome support group to connect with others.
Dr. Hamilton’s office is ready to serve you; most of our appointments can be maneuvered to see urgent situations the same day. Call our office today! We proudly serve Aurora, Parker, Centennial, Commerce City, and the Greater Denver Metro, conveniently located off I-
References are available on the attached .pdf
Published 07 November 2016