Munson Health
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 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


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


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


Cauda Equina Syndrome Resource Center

National Spinal Cord Injury Association



Canadian Spinal Research Organization

Spinal Cord Injury Canada



Cauda equina syndrome. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: Updated October 2007. Accessed November 16, 2013.

Cauda equina syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated June 8, 2013. Accessed November 16, 2013.


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