Cauda equina syndrome is a rare spine disorder that occurs when the spinal nerve roots – called cauda equine (Latin for horse’s tail) – become compressed. Located at the lower end of the spinal cord, cauda equine nerve roots are responsible for sending and receiving messages to and from your legs, feet, and pelvic organs.
Patients experiencing one or more symptoms need immediate treatment in order to prevent permanent damage. If timely treatment isn’t received, it can result in lasting damage that leads to incontinence, or even permanent paralysis of the legs.
Cauda equina syndrome occurs more often in adults than in children, although children with spinal birth defects or spinal injury are at risk.
Typical symptoms of cauda equina syndrome include:
Patients with cauda equina syndrome need prompt surgical treatment to relieve pressure on the nerves to prevent permanent damage. This is best done within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Depending on the cause, you may also need corticosteroids treatment and/or antibiotics. Partial or full restoration of function is possible, but it can sometimes take several months to achieve.