Cauda Equina Syndrome is a rare spinal condition. The condition results from compression of lower lumbar and sacral nerves within the spinal canal. Irritation is caused by “exposed nerve endings and those suffering from CES experience pain or altered spinal functionality.”

The most common cause for Cauda Equina Syndrome is “when large, centralized discs in the lower back, specifically between the areas of L4/5 and L5/S1, are herniated and result in severe compression of the nerves.” However, even with a herniated back disc, the chances of developing Cauda Equina Syndrome is less than 1%.

Other potential causes of Cauda Equina Syndrome include “spinal cord trauma or injuries, particularly fractures or subluxations; tumors or infections; bone spurs; cysts or other traumatic injuries like tuberculosis, potts’ paralysis and iatrogenic causes (eg spinal manipulation under anesthesia.)” Another contributing factor to Cauda Equina Syndrome is if a patient has spinal stenosis, “a condition that occurs as the spinal canal narrows, restricting or compressing the nerve roots and spinal cord” or degenerative joint diseases.

The symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome include lower back pain, weakness or loss of reflexes, sexual dysfunction or bowel/urinary dysfunction. The cause of Cauda Equina Syndrome symptoms is due to the damage and interruption of the nerves associated with the lumbar and sacral vertebrae. To officially diagnose Cauda Equina Syndrome, a doctor would do a physical exam as well as likely use an MRI. Unfortunately, this rare condition almost always requires urgent surgery.

Cauda Equina Syndrome is rare and is often difficult to diagnose. However, the medical professionals at Kuether Brain and Spine can be a useful resource for those in the Portland metro area facing this syndrome as they discuss their treatment options.