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.

Cauda Equina Syndrome and bladder problems

Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome include disruption to normal bladder 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 bladder problems:

  • 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

For patients with urinary retention, catheterisation is an effective method used to empty the bladder. For more information on catheters and products available, please visit our catheter product section .

Cauda Equina Syndrome and bowel problems

You may also suffer from bowel problems which can include:

  • 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

Further Help

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.

For more detailed information please visit the Cauda Equina Syndrome Charity