Cauda equina syndrome is a rare but serious condition that is deemed a medical surgical emergency. Cauda equina syndrome may have long-lasting effects if not addressed right away.
Cauda equina syndrome results from compression of the spinal nerves that control bowel and bladder function. It is usually combined with lumbar disc disease. The loss of bowel and bladder function in cauda equina syndrome is a call for immediate physician consultation.
Note: Some back pain and leg pain patients are prescribed injections and medications to deal with and even reduce the pain. These treatments may mask the pain while cauda equina syndrome persists. So be sure to tell your Southern New Hampshire chiropractor if you now have or develop at any point in your care a loss of bladder control (cannot control your urination) or a loss of bowel control (cannot control your bowels movements).
One of the first questions during a chiropractic examination is “Do you have bladder or bowel control issues?” so the condition of cauda equina is immediately considered. For information on how a typical spinal examination flows, please watch the video.
Lumbar Spine Exam Description
The gold standard of care for cauda equina syndrome is surgery to decompress the spinal nerves. This may involve the removal of disc material or disc fragment that has entered the spinal canal space. How soon does this surgery need to be done? The medical research literature is filled with recommendations of “immediately” to discussions of positive results similar to outcomes of immediate surgical interventions when the surgical intervention happened 1 to 3 months after the onset of cauda equina symptoms. The best course of action is immediate physician evaluation and recommendation.
Clinical Case Reports
In one report, 14 patients (11 men and 3 women) with a mean age of 48 years (36-57 years) who presented with chronic lower back pain, leg pain and cauda equina symptoms and had surgery performed 1 to 3 months after onset. All report relief of back or leg pain. 9 patients report lower extremity strength improvement. So researchers offer that significant improvement in bladder and bowel function is possible. (1)
Contact New Hampshire Spine and Sport for consultation about your spinal pain conditions.