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Cauda Equina Syndrome (cont.)

Cauda Equina Syndrome Symptoms

Symptoms of cauda equina syndrome include the following:

  • Low back pain

  • Pain in one leg (unilateral) or both legs (bilateral) that starts in the buttocks and travels down the back of the thighs and legs (sciatica)

  • Numbness in the groin or area of contact if sitting on a saddle (perineal or saddle paresthesia)

  • Bowel and bladder disturbances

  • Lower extremity muscle weakness and loss of sensations

  • Reduced or absent lower extremity reflexes
Low back pain can be divided into local and radicular pain.
  • Local pain is generally a deep, aching pain resulting from soft tissue and vertebral body irritation.

  • Leg pain (radicular pain) is generally a sharp, stabbing pain resulting from compression of the nerve roots. Radicular pain projects along the specific areas controlled by the compressed nerve (known as a dermatomal distribution).
Bladder disturbance (urinary manifestations) related to cauda equina syndrome include the following:
  • Inability to urinate (urinary retention)

  • Difficulty initiating urination (urinary hesitancy)

  • Decreased sensation when urinating (decreased urethral sensation)

  • Inability to stop or control urination (incontinence)
Bowel disturbances may include the following:
  • Inability to stop or feel a bowel movement (incontinence)

  • Constipation

  • Loss of anal tone and sensation

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Cauda Equina Syndrome »

The cauda equina (CE) is formed by nerve roots caudal to the level of spinal cord termination.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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