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Top Border - Bladder and Bowel Foundation

Bowel > Bowel Problems > Cauda Equina

Cauda Equina

Cauda Equina Syndrome is a serious condition. If it is left untreated it results in severe side effects such as permanent loss of bowel and bladder control and paralysis of the legs.

What causes Cauda Equina Syndrome?

Cauda Equina Syndrome is caused by narrowing of the spinal canal in the lumbar and sacral area of the back. This compresses the nerves leaving the bottom of the spinal cord. These nerves provide sensation and muscle control for the bladder, bowel and legs.

There are a number of causes resulting in Cauda Equina Syndrome. These include traumatic injury, spinal tumours, disk herniation and inflammatory conditions. Damage can also be present at birth (congenital) from causes such as Spina Bifida and tumours of the cauda equina.

Symptoms associated with Cauda Equina Syndrome

  • Lower back pain
  • Muscle weakness and loss of sensation
  • Numbness in the groin area and around the genitals and the back passage
  • Loss of normal bladder and bowel control

If you think that you are suffering from any of the symptoms described above you should visit your GP or healthcare professional as soon as possible. Cauda Equina Syndrome requires emergency surgery.

It is possible that you can regain normal functions once the condition has been treated but this is determined by how long you have had associated symptoms for.

Most healthcare professionals agree that people suffering from Cauda Equina Syndrome should undergo emergency surgery within 48 hours to ensure a positive recovery.

Cauda Equina Syndrome and bowel problems

Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome include disruption to normal bowel function. If Cauda Equina Syndrome is not treated, this can lead to permanent bladder and bowel related problems.

If you are suffering from Cauda Equina Syndrome you may experience the following bowel problems:

  • Constipation
  • You are unable to control your bowels and you become incontinent
  • You may not be able to feel when you need to empty your bowel or when you are emptying your bowels

If you are suffering from any of the bowel problems described above please visit our Bowel Problems pages where you will find further information.

You may also suffer from bladder problems which include:

  • Urinary Retention - you are unable to urinate properly or completely
  • You may find it difficult to start urinating
  • You may not be able to feel when you are urinating - a loss of urethral sensation
  • You may also find that you are unable to control your bladder and become incontinent

If you are concerned about any of the bladder problems described above please visit our Bladder Problems Section for information on specific bladder symptoms and conditions, including treatment and product options to manage your symptoms.

Seeking help from a health care professional

If you think that you are suffering from any of the symptoms described previously you should visit your healthcare professional as soon as possible. Cauda Equina Syndrome requires emergency surgery.

It is possible that you can regain normal functions once the condition has been treated but this is determined by how long you have had associated symptoms for.

Most healthcare professionals agree that people suffering from Cauda Equina Syndrome should undergo emergency surgery within 48 hours to ensure a positive recovery.

Further Help

If you are concerned about your problem and it is starting to affect your day to day life make an appointment to see your doctor, continence nurse or specialist physiotherapist. A continence nurse and specialist physiotherapist are healthcare professionals who specialise in bladder and bowel problems.

You can also call our specialist helpline on 0845 345 0165 (24 hour answerphone) for medical advice, or call our office on 01536 533255 to find out where your nearest NHS continence service is.

For information on specific bowel problems, including treatment and product options, please use the drop down menu below.

 

Last updated: 12/09/2013

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Cauda Equina

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