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: nice2meetuu, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 07

At 39 years of age, I had a herniated disc that blew towards the back side and into my spinal column. It started with numbness in one leg and I went to the chiropractor. Then I had numbness in both legs. I went to the emergency room and had an x-ray. I was sent home and told I could go to work and not lift more than 10 pounds. Another 24 hours with the herniated disc and I went to see a neurologist who hit my reflex at my Achilles heel and told me I had severe spinal cord damage. I was sent to have an MRI and after it was read, I was sent immediately into surgery. I was in the hospital for 8 days and rehab for 3 weeks. I walked with hand crutches for a 1 1/2 year. I had severe nerve damage in my legs, and bladder and bowel damage. It had been almost 17 years and I have extreme nerve and muscle pain, 2 lower back bulging disc and arthritis in that area. I walk slightly forward for balance and now have sciatica and an enlarged ligament pressing on the nerves in the lower spinal canal. I am in extreme pain and might be looking at further surgery.

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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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