Cauda Equina Syndrome - Experience

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What is cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome is an uncommon compression of the nerves at the end of the spinal cord within the spinal canal. The terminology, "cauda equina," literally means tail of horse and refers to the normal anatomy of the end of the spinal cord in the low back where it divides into many bundles of nerve tracts resembling a horse's tail. Compression of the spinal cord at this level can lead to a number of typical symptoms of the syndrome (low back pain, sciatica, saddle sensory changes, bladder and bowel incontinence, and lower extremity motor and sensory loss).

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Christine, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 06

Over 2 years ago I developed pain in my left leg which became worse whenever I laid down. I do have a history of back pain off and on for most of my life (and one episode of sciatica), but had little to no back pain at this time (although I had a bad back episode the month before). It was determined that I had a disc herniation and was referred to physiotherapy. It became worse very quickly. Two months after it first started, there was saddle numbness as well as numbness going down the entire back of the leg, and along the outside half of my calf and the entire foot. By this point I couldn't stand on my own due to leg and foot weakness. I had an MRI and saw a surgeon fairly quickly, and I had an L3/4 microdiscectomy. I now have permanent weakness in my leg and a dropped foot, use a cane instead of crutches when I go out, and the numbness has remained. But I'm fortunate that I have no more pain, and I was told I came very close to losing bladder/bowel control, so I consider myself very lucky overall. Maybe that's considered to be partial cauda equina syndrome.

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Comment from: john_r, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: February 11

I had an operation for spinal stenosis in August 2015. I went home that day after the surgery. I woke up two days later with everything numb from the waist down. I was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery for cauda equina syndrome. I had to wear a Foley catheter for 3 weeks not knowing if my bladder was going to work or not. Thank goodness it does. It took me a couple of months to walk normally again. I feel very lucky that it was caught in time.

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