Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina Syndrome is a rare condition which occurs when the nerves at the base of the spinal cord are squeezed together. It can cause pain in the lower back and/or legs, as well as numbness or weakness in one or both legs, in the buttocks or between the legs (the ‘saddle region’). It can also cause problems with bladder or bowel control and sexual function.

The term ‘Cauda Equina’ relates to the lower end of the spinal cord, where the nerves fan out into a bundle of fibres that looks like a horse’s tail. (‘Cauda Equina’ is latin for ‘horse’s tail’).  These nerves send and receive messages to and from the legs, feet and pelvic organs. If these nerves become compressed, there is a risk of developing Cauda Equina Syndrome. It is therefore a serious medical condition that needs to be promptly diagnosed and treated.

Cauda Equina requires emergency hospital admission and surgery to prevent permanent damage. The longer it goes untreated, the greater the chance it will lead to permanent paralysis and incontinence.

When medical professionals fail to diagnose Cauda Equina Syndrome, it can leave a patient disabled, affecting every aspect of their daily lives.

At Jackson Lees, our Medical Negligence solicitors have considerable experience with Cauda Equina Syndrome claims. We understand the complex issues and the serious consequences that the condition can have for a patient and their loved ones. Our experience combines medical and legal expertise, to carefully consider current issues and future outcomes after an injury.

Due to the damage to the spinal cord, Cauda Equina Syndrome claims can be quite substantial. If you have suffered as a result of a misdiagnosis or a lack of adequate treatment, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible as there are strict time limits for making a claim.

Cauda Equina FAQs

What Are the Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome?

There are a variety of symptoms that could potentially indicate Cauda Equina syndrome, including:

●      Severe lower back pain

●      Pain, numbness or weakness in one or both legs

●      Loss of, or altered, sensation in the legs, buttocks, saddle region, backs of legs, or feet.

●      Loss of mobility or paralysis

●      Recent problems with bladder and/or bowel function

●      Sudden onset of sexual dysfunction

What Are the Common Causes of Cauda Equina Syndrome?

Cauda Equina Syndrome affects adults more often than children.

Nerve compression, leading to Cauda Equina Syndrome, is most often caused by a lumbar herniated disc. A lumbar disc can herniate in a single injury when excessive pressure is placed on the lower spine, or can occur when an already weakened disc is strained and caused to rupture.

Other causes of Cauda Equina Syndrome include:

  • Lumbar spinal stenosis

  • Inflammatory conditions

  • Infections of the spinal canal

  • Tumours

  • Trauma to the lumbar spine

  • Postoperative complications from lumbar surgery

  • Birth defects in children

What Are The Consequences Of Cauda Equina Syndrome?

Whilst relatively rare, Cauda Equina Syndrome is a serious condition and requires urgent medical intervention.

If not diagnosed and treated promptly, it can cause irreversible damage and have lasting consequences for a patient, both physically and emotionally. If a patient’s Cauda Equina Syndrome is chronic, they will require ongoing management and adjustment to changes in the way their body functions.

Even with treatment, a patient may not make a full recovery. It depends on how much damage has occurred. Where surgery is successful, it may still take several years to regain full mobility and bladder/bowel function.

Case Study

In one serious case, we acted for a client who initially presented with back and leg pain, numbness and notable urinary incontinence. She contacted her GP for advice, also explaining that she was struggling to sleep and unable to climb the stairs. The GP prescribed strong painkillers and saw no need for a home visit.

Our client’s symptoms persisted: her urinary incontinence increased, together with a general decrease in mobility. She contacted her GP practice again. Around one week after her initial complaint, her GP made a home visit, resulting in out client being admitted to hospital. Our client was diagnosed with acute Cauda Equina Syndrome and underwent surgery.

We argued that the delayed diagnosis led to our client’s permanent bladder and bowel incontinence. She also suffers from chronic sensory loss, loss of balance and pain, which could have been avoided or diminished. After proceeding through the majority of the court process, the matter was settled shortly before a final trial for £200,000. The defendant also repaid all relevant benefits to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Related Information

Here are a few links that you might find useful:

Our People

We are independently accredited by leading legal organisations such as Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) and the Law Society. Our Medical Negligence solicitors can assist with conditions such as Cauda Equina Syndrome and other types of spinal injuries. We know exactly what to do to uncover the crucial information for your case.

We appreciate that you will probably have many questions about your case. Please give us a call for initial advice on the best way to proceed with a claim.

Our aim is to claim the compensation you deserve, by approaching your case in a meticulous and sensitive manner.

Find out how we can help you today. Contact our team on 0151 282 1700, or fill in our online enquiry form.


General FAQs

What will happen when I make a Cauda Equina Syndrome compensation claim?

If you have been seriously injured as a result of delayed or negligent medical treatment, please do not hesitate to get in touch. One of our legal advisors will be able to talk you through the various ways in which we can help.

We provide a free consultation, which will inform you of our initial assessment of your case. We will look at your claim to see if it is viable and consider the information with our in-house medical team. We can then let you know whether we can take your case on.

If you choose to pursue your Medical Negligence case, we will begin our investigations by gathering evidence and obtaining expert medical opinion. If the expert is supportive, this will enable us to value the case and ensure that you are fully compensated, for your pain and ongoing medical care.

How long will my medical negligence case take?

Depending on the type of injury sustained, Cauda Equina claims can vary in length and complexity.

For most Medical Negligence cases, it takes on average 18 months to complete the initial investigation. We work as quickly as possible throughout the process, but are sometimes reliant on third parties. Timeframes often depend on involvement from the Legal Aid Agency (for birth injury cases), medical record holders or subject matter experts.

Can I make a claim on a no win no fee basis?

Most of our cases are funded by a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement, officially known as a ‘Conditional Fee Agreement’. This means exactly what it says: we only get paid if your case succeeds. If your case fails, there is nothing for you to pay to us.*

*In an unsuccessful case, there is nothing to pay provided you take out insurance to cover expenses, such as medical experts.

How long do I have to make a claim?

The time limit for personal injury claims is three years from:

  • When you first suffered the injury

  • When you became aware that you suffered an injury that could have been caused by an act or omission of another

  • When you became aware of the identity of the defendant.

If the injured person does not have the mental capacity to bring a claim, then the time limit will not apply. In some cases this is obvious, but in other cases it is more complicated. If your claim is out of time, you will not be able to pursue it. However, lodging a Claim Form at the court can protect your case from the time limit.

The rules on limitation are not straightforward, and there are a lot of considerations when deciding to start court proceedings. Therefore, it is essential to seek legal advice as soon as you are concerned that you might have a claim.