Road Today - - Guest Column: Health -

In or­der to un­der­stand cauda equina syn­drome, you must first be­come fa­mil­iar with the anatomy of the spinal cord. As most of you know, the spinal cord is ba­si­cally an ex­ten­sion of the brain that is lo­cated in the spinal canal. When the spinal cord reaches about the level of the waist it sep­a­rates into a group of long nerves that re­sem­ble a horse’s tail. As a re­sult, anatomists named this area of the spinal cord the cauda equina which lit­er­ally means horses tail in latin.

Cauda equina syn­drome oc­curs when a her­ni­ated disk in the lower back com­presses the en­tire cauda equina. In most cases, pa­tients suf­fer­ing from cauda equina syn­drome will ex­pe­ri­ence mod­er­ate to se­vere pain in the lower back with as­so­ci­ated neu­ro­log­i­cal symp­toms. Sad­dle anes­the­sia which is the pro­gres­sive loss of sen­sa­tion in ar­eas that would typ­i­cally touch a sad­dle such as the in­ner thighs, back of legs and rec­tal re­gion is com­monly re­ported by pa­tients. In ad­di­tion, in­di­vid­u­als may also ex­pe­ri­ence bowel or blad­der dys­func­tion which may in­clude dif­fi­culty with uri­na­tion or in­con­ti­nence.

It is very im­por­tant to seek im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion if you sus­pect that you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing cauda equina syn­drome as emer­gency de­com­pres­sive surgery may be re­quired to avoid per­ma­nent weak­ness or paral­y­sis of pelvis and lower limbs.

In most cases, your doc­tor will be able to di­ag­no­sis cauda equina syn­drome by tak­ing a de­tailed med­i­cal his­tory and per­form­ing a phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion. If needed, your doc­tor will also or­der di­ag­nos­tic tests such as CT scans and MRI to bet­ter vi­su­al­ize the in­jured area.

Surgery to fix cauda equina syn­drome usu­ally in­volves a sur­geon re­mov­ing parts of the her­ni­ated disc that are press­ing the nerves in or­der to re­lieve pres­sure. How­ever, if surgery is not re­quired, con­ser­va­tive treat­ment such as phys­i­cal ther­apy, mas­sage and chi­ro­prac­tic may be rec­om­mended. To add to this, medications to re­duce pain, in­fla­tion and mus­cle

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