A rare disorder affecting a bundle of nerves at the base of the spinal cord, cauda equina syndrome (CES) often requires urgent assistance. The resulting nerve compression can be due to a herniated disc in the lower spine, a narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis), an inflammatory condition, or an injury. A severe ruptured disc is the most common cause of CES, and spinal surgery is often necessary to correct it.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs of CES can appear suddenly or develop progressively over time, depending on the cause of the nerve compression. It can be difficult to conclusively tell if lower back pain is due to CES because symptoms can be vague or mimic other conditions that affect the lumbar spine.
Symptoms of CES may include:
- Severe lower back pain
- Difficulty moving or walking
- Loss of sensation in the buttocks
- Sudden paralysis
- Loss of bowel of bladder control
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis of CES is often a combination of a patient’s description of symptoms, overall health, medical history, blood tests, and image tests. A special type of X-ray of the spinal canal called a myelogram may be performed to determine the location of the nerve or spinal cord compression. High doses of corticosteroids may be given to reduce swelling, along with antibiotics if there is a related infection.
Treatment may also involve:
- Surgery to relieve nerve pressure (usually within 48 hours of experiencing symptoms)
- Radiation or chemotherapy if a tumor is the cause of the nerve compression
- Occupational or physical therapy if permanent damage has occurred
More common in adults than children, CES may also result from a fracture, tumor, or accident. When it does occur in children, it’s usually due to a birth defect or injury. Making an effort to keep spinal discs healthy by drinking plenty of water, eating a nutritionally balanced diet, and getting regular exercise may help minimize the risk of developing the condition. If you have been diagnosed with CES or another spinal condition and need minimally invasive back surgery in Beverly Hills, get in touch with Dr. Bae at The Spine Institute Center. Call one of our friendly representatives at 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment and take your first steps toward living a pain-free life.