One of the most serious non-fatal injuries we see resulting from car accidents is a spinal injury known as cauda equina syndrome. This is a medical emergency that requires immediate surgery if there is to be any chance of avoiding permanent bowel or bladder problems or paraplegia.
Cauda equina is Latin for “horse tail, and describes a bundle of nerve roots at the end of the lumbar spine. If a trauma such as a car accident or fall causes a ruptured disc, spinal fracture, or hemorrhaging in the spinal area, the nerve roots may be compressed, causing loss of sensation in the legs, feet, and pelvic organs. Cauda equina syndrome sometimes appears slowly, and may be misdiagnosed.
Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome
Anyone who has been in an accident and begins to experience these symptoms should get medical attention immediately:
- Severe pain in the low back
- Pain, numbness, or weakness the legs that causes stumbling when you try to rise from a seated
- Unusual sensation or lack of sensation in the lower body that continues to worsen, especially in the “saddle” area (the area that would come in contact with the saddle when riding a horse)
- Bowel or bladder problems, either retention or incontinence
- Sudden onset of sexual dysfunction
The diagnosis can be confirmed with an X-ray of the spinal column called a myelogram, using a contrast dye to show exactly where the pressure is occurring on the nerves.
Immediate surgery is required to relieve the pressure on the nerves, but sometimes it is not reversible and the condition becomes permanent. For the best results, surgery should be performed within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
If you or a family member have been injured in an accident that was not your fault and have suffered from cauda equina syndrome or other serious back injuries, you may have questions about how to pursue a claim for compensation. Jim Dodson has many years of experience helping clients who have suffered serious injuries like yours. You can call him anytime at 888-207-0905.
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