We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Cauda Equina Syndrome?

By Adam Hill
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The spinal cord extends from the brain all the way down to where it ends, in the first lumbar vertebra in the lower back. Nerve roots extend at intervals from the spine to control movement and perception in all areas of the body. A bundle of nerve roots is located at the end of the spinal cord, and forms what is known as the cauda equina, which means "horse tail." Cauda equina syndrome refers to the extreme inflammation or compression of these nerve roots, causing varying symptoms that may incapacitate the patient completely.

Nerve root compression in other areas of the back can cause pain and limited motion, but these are generally not as serious as they are bothersome. Simple measures can be taken to reduce inflammation, and this type of treatment usually solves the problem. Cauda equina syndrome, however, is a serious condition that is considered a medical emergency if its onset is sudden and severe. It can be caused by a well-placed lesion that compresses the nerve bundle, or more commonly by a herniated vertebral disc.

Cauda equina syndrome often presents with symptoms such as severe lower back pain, coupled with urinary or bowel control issues, and possibly sexual dysfunction. Many patients affected by cauda equina syndrome experience such severe pain that they rae unable to walk, or are affected by a lack of strength or sensation in the legs, producing the same result. If the patient experiences weight loss along with the usual symptoms, it may have been caused by cancer that has metastasized. Cauda equina syndrome is quite rare, but it must be considered as a possible diagnosis in patients who present with back pain that is coupled with urinary symptoms. The diagnosis itself is best done by means of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or similar procedure.

Although cauda equina syndrome is not seen in patients of any particular race more than another, there does seem to exist a slight predilection in favor of males from 30 to 50 years of age. While potentially debilitating, it is not fatal. A full recovery will depend on the extent of any permanent nerve damage. In general, the more time that has elapsed before treatment is sought, the greater the chance that permanent nerve damage will develop. The only sure treatment for cauda equina syndrome is surgery, which if successful, can lead to an almost immediate recovery.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.