Definition of Cauda Equina Syndrome
How Is Cauda Equina Syndrome Defined?
Cauda equina syndrome is a rare and serious back-related condition. It needs immediate evaluation and treatment. No delay.
In Weisel et al (see cauda equina references) it is defined as a complex of symptoms.
The Signs and Symptoms
What Can Cause Cauda Equina Syndrome?
CES occurs when the nerves which are running down in the spinal canal are interfered with and their conduction is altered. It can be caused by fractures, tumours, infections, spinal stenosis and disc herniation. The commonest cause is trauma, eg accidents such as falls or road traffic accidents.
How Does CES Develop?
Acute CES may develop quickly eg within a week and may be sudden with no warning. People may fall into three main groups:
Description of Group 1
Severe pain around the rectum/anus. Sciatic (leg) symptoms may be less severe (or even absent), urinary retention and severe back pain very common, sciatic pain and sensory changes affecting the buttocks, posterior thighs and calves and soles of feet.
Description of Group 2
As group 1 plus similar less severe episodes in the past not including urinary retention.
Description of Group 3
Initially have low back pain and sciatica, then gradually develop urinary retention.