What is it?

The cauda equina is a bundle of nerves that spread out from the bottom of the spinal cord. Cauda equina syndrome is the medical term for a group of symptoms that happen when some of the nerves in the cauda equina get squeezed or damaged.

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Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES).

Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Detrusor hyperreflexia

Signs & symptoms

Symptoms of cauda equina syndrome may include:
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in the lower back and spreading down one or both legs
- Leg weakness or a problem called "foot drop," which is when you cannot seem to hold the foot up (for example, while walking)
- Loss of or altered sensations in the legs, buttocks, inner thighs, backs of the legs, or feet that is severe or gets worse and worse
- Problems with bowel or bladder control
- Sexual dysfunction that has come on suddenly


To confirm a diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome your doctor will need:
- A medical history, in which you answer questions about your health, symptoms, and activity
- A physical exam to assess your strength, reflexes, sensation, stability, alignment, and motion. You may also need blood tests
- MRI scan to your spine
- A myelogram - an X-ray of the spinal canal after injection of contrast material - which can pinpoint pressure on the spinal cord or nerves
- CT scan


Treatment for cauda equina syndrome involves treating the reason who is affecting the nerves and causing the symptoms. Often, that means having surgery to remove bits of bone or discs, or tumors. If the cause of the cauda equina syndrome is a tumor, radiation to shrink the tumor might be an option. If the cause is an infection or inflammation, medicines to treat those problems might be needed.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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