Cauda equina syndrome refers to compression of nerves below the spinal cord. These nerves are vital as they provide sensation to the skin around the bottom and are also important in the control of the bladder and bowels.
There are multiple symptoms that are associated with cauda equina. These include:
- Numbness around the back passage
- Low back pain
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
However, the above list is not exhaustive. Pain resulting from cauda equina could manifest gradually or rapidly and it usually radiates down the leg.
Diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome:
Initial examination involves testing pain sensation by pinprick. The diagnosis is then confirmed by an MRI scan or a CT scan. Early diagnosis is crucial for preventative measures. Furthermore, an ultrasound scan of the bladder provides information about bladder function. This is a test that can easily be carried out in most emergency departments.
Early signs include loss of sensation of feeling around the saddle area of the back passage and changes in bowel and bladder patterns.
Management of cauda equina syndrome:
Treatment involves emergency surgical decompression. This surgery aims to relieve the pressure in the lower spinal canal which therefore restores function in the spinal nerves.
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