Cauda equina syndrome (damage to spinal cord): Causes, description, Treatment

Lower Back | Emergency Medicine | Cauda equina syndrome (damage to spinal cord) (Disease)

Cauda equina syndrome (damage to spinal cord): Description

Cauda equina syndrome is a serious neurologic condition representing an uncommon compression of the nerves at the end of the spinal cord within the spinal canal.

Symptoms vary, may come on slowly and also mimic other conditions. Example of symptoms: severe low back pain; pain, numbness, or weakness in one or both; loss of or altered sensations in your legs, buttocks, inner thighs, backs of legs, or feet that is severe; saddle anesthesia; recent problem with bladder or bowel function, such as trouble eliminating urine or waste called retention or trouble holding it called incontinence; decreased anal tone and consequent fecal incontinence; sexual dysfunction that has come on suddenly.

Causes and Risk factors

These are the most common causes of cauda equina syndrome: a severe ruptured disk in the lumbar area, which is the most common cause; narrowing of the spinal canal known as stenosis; a spinal lesion or tumor; a spinal infection, inflammation like Paget disease, Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, Ankylosing spondylitis, and chronic tuberculosis, hemorrhage, or fracture; a complication from a severe lumbar spine injury such as a car crash, fall, gunshot, or stabbing; a birth defect such as an abnormal connection between blood vessels known as arteriovenous malformation; a metastatic disease.

Cauda equina syndrome (damage to spinal cord): Treatment and Diagnosis

Diagnosis usually involves physical examination and is confirmed by a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computer Tomography CT scan, depending on availability. Cauda equina syndrome is a medical emergency.

Treatment involves surgery to prevent permanent damage, such as paralysis of the legs, loss of bladder and bowel control, sexual function, or other problems. Medications as corticosteroids are used

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