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Cauda Equina Syndrome

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by Cresse M

(CES; Compression of Spinal Nerve Roots; Syndrome, Cauda Equina; Spinal Nerve Roots, Compression)

 

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of developing CES include:
 

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:
  • Severe low back pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the crotch area known as saddle anesthesia/paresthesia
  • Inability to urinate, or to hold urine or feces
  • Inability to walk or dragging of foot
  • Weakness, loss of sensation, or pain in one or both legs
  • Sexual dysfunction; in men, the inability to maintain an erection
 

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
  • Surgery options:
    • Laminectomy—a surgical procedure to remove a portion of a vertebra, called the lamina
    • Diskectomy—a surgical procedure to remove part of an intervertebral disk that is putting pressure on the spinal cord or nerve root
  • Radiation therapy—If CES is due to cancer, radiation therapy may be an option.
Your doctor may also treat the underlying cause of CES.

Follow-up Care

The long-term effects of CES can range from mild to severe. Problems may include:
  • Difficulty walking
  • Problems with bladder and bowels
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Paralysis
Your follow-up care may involve working with a:
  • Physical therapist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Neurologist
  • Incontinence specialist—if you have lost bladder control

Medication

Your doctor may prescribe medication for:
  • Pain
  • Bladder and bowel difficulties
 

RESOURCES

Cauda Equina Syndrome Resource Center
http://www.caudaequina.org

National Spinal Cord Injury Association
http://www.spinalcord.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Spinal Research Organization
http://www.csro.com

Spinal Cord Injury Canada
http://sci-can.ca

 

References


Cauda equina syndrome. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00362. Updated October 2007. Accessed November 16, 2013.


Cauda equina syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated June 8, 2013. Accessed November 16, 2013.

 

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