My name is Emma and I’m a chiropractor at Lushington Chiropractic Clinic in Eastbourne. As a chiropractor in Eastbourne, I commonly see patients with low back pain. Low back pain can have a wide range of causes and during the course of my work in Eastbourne I enjoy finding the root cause of the problem. Cauda Equina Syndrome is the name of a rare but serious condition, sometimes seen by chiropractors, that needs to be diagnosed quickly in order to be managed correctly and prevent any long-term complications. The causes and symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome are outlined below.
Causes of Cauda Equina Syndrome
The spine is made from 33 vertebra with joints in-between. Between these vertebrae sit 23 discs that act as shock absorbers when we bend and twist. The spinal cord sits inside the vertebrae and runs from the brain to the pelvis, and is responsible for transmitting signals from the brain to the body to control movement, sensation, temperature, pain and the control of your internal organs.
Cauda equina syndrome is the name given to a collection of symptoms caused by compression of the bundle of nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord. These nerves are responsible for the function of your legs, bladder and sexual organs. Compression of these nerves is most commonly caused by a large disc herniation, also known as a prolapsed disc, herniated disc, disc bulge, slipped disc or protruded disc. It is important to remember that it is rare for disc herniations to cause Cauda Equina Syndrome, but it is critical to understand the signs and symptoms of the condition in order to recognise it if it does occur. There are sometimes other underlying causes of Cauda Equina Syndrome, but regardless of the underlying cause, it is very important to recognise the symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome so that it can be diagnosed and managed promptly, which reduces the risk of long-term problems with leg, bladder and sexual organ function.
Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome
- Severe low back pain
- Sciatica (radiating pain down one or both legs)
- Changes in bladder habits – not being able to fully empty your bladder, becoming incontinent (not knowing when your bladder is full) or struggling to control the flow of urine when passing urine.
- Changes in bowel habits – not being able to retain bowel contents
- Numbness or change in sensations in the buttock, inner thighs and/or genital areas (altered feeling wheen using toilet paper)
- Progressive weakness in the legs or feet
- Changes in sexual function
A combination of these symptoms may be a warning sign of Cauda Equina Syndrome. If you are suffering with low back pain, your chiropractor in Eastbourne will take a thorough history and perform a physical examination to test the function of the nerves in your legs. Although some of the questions that your chiropractor in Eastbourne asks may not seem relevant, for example about bladder habits and sexual function, it is important to answer these questions as accurately as possible so that the chiropractor can diagnose you correctly.
If Cauda Equina Syndrome is suspected, your chiropractor at Lushington Chiropractic Clinic in Eastbourne will refer you promptly for further tests. This is very important, as although the risk of developing Cauda Equina Syndrome is very rare, it can result in permanent damage to the function of the bowel, bladder and legs if not treated promptly.
If you have any questions or concerns and are local to Eastbourne, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Lushington Chiropractic Clinic, Eastbourne and one of our chiropractors will be happy to help you.
By Emma Johnson
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