Originally published on: April 6th, 2017. Last modified on June 29th, 2021
Cauda Equina is a very serious condition causing nerve root damage. This is a rare disorder where pressure is exerted on a collection of nerves located at the bottom of the spinal cord known as the ‘cauda equina’. The cauda equina set of nerves looks like a horse’s tail, which is where it gets it’s name from.
Symptoms Of Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES)
- Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome usually start suddenly and can progress quickly. There is a chronic form of the condition which usually stems from another long term neurological condition such as Multiple Sclerosis. Other causes of Cauda Equina Syndrome can include slipped/ herniated disc, severe bone infection, spinal/ bone tumours, recent spinal surgery or spinal trauma. People with Cauda Equina will usually experience:
- Lower back pain
- Muscle weakness and loss of sensation
- Numbness in the groin area and around the back passage
- Loss of normal bladder and bowel function
Why Might A Person With Cauda Equina Syndrome Become Incontinent?
The cauda equina nerves supply muscle sensation to the bladder, bowel and legs. When these nerves become suppressed from Cauda Equina Syndrome then muscle sensation becomes lost which can result in loss of bladder and/ or bowel control.
Common incontinence conditions include
Most cases of Cauda Equina Syndrome require emergency surgery to decompress the nerves and prevent permanent damage and loss of sensation to the bladder and bowel.
If you are experiencing symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome it is important to seek help straight away in order to receive treatment as soon as possible. It has been proven that if surgery takes places within 48 hours of symptoms that for many sensation and bladder and bowel control can be restored.
Further information and downloads can be found in the help & information section. Living with a bladder or bowel condition or caring for someone with a bladder and bowel condition can affect you emotionally and socially; sometimes it can help to speak to others who understand your situation.
There are many ways you can find help on this site, including our Closed Facebook Group which is a moderated space for peer support and discussion.