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If you have suffered as a result of medical negligence, an injury solicitor can help you claim the compensation you deserve
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Cauda Equina Syndrome Claims

Cauda equina syndrome is a severe neurological condition that affects the lower end of the spinal cord. Compression or trauma in this region may cause nerve damage, with symptoms like severe back pain, leg pain, incontinence and sexual dysfunction.

If an individual shows any of the red flag characteristic symptoms, this should always be treated as a medical emergency. Failure to diagnose and promptly treat a cauda equina injury can lead to debilitating long-time effects, including paralysis and loss of bowel and bladder function.

If you developed a cauda equina syndrome due to medical negligence or misdiagnosis, you might be entitled to make a cauda equina syndrome claim. The compensation you might receive depends on the severity of your symptoms and your recovery prognosis.

For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 032 3660. They can let you know if you may be eligible to make a claim and can answer any questions you may have.

Can I make a cauda equina syndrome claim?

If you suffered a cauda equina injury in the last three years, you are eligible to make a compensation claim if:

  • you were misdiagnosed because your healthcare provider didn’t recognise your red flag symptoms
  • your diagnosis was delayed, leading to a worsening of your symptoms and condition
  • inadequate or poorly performed surgery resulted in further compression of the spinal cord
  • your doctor failed to acknowledge postoperative complications after surgery
  • you suffered a blood clot that caused the spinal injury, and it was not treated correctly
  • you suffered a traumatic injury due to a road traffic accident or a slip, trip and fall

Often, cauda equina claims arise because doctors are not sufficiently alert to the patient’s symptoms and fail to perform the required tests to diagnose the condition. Therefore, lumbar decompression surgery is delayed, which might lead to permanent damage.

Medical negligence is a demanding field, and claims for cauda equina can be particularly complex. You should seek legal advice from an experienced solicitor as soon as possible after your injury. They will let you know how to build a strong claim and help gather relevant evidence.

Furthermore, if your case seems solid, you can claim on a no win no fee* basis. This means that you are taking no financial risks, and you won’t have to cover any legal charges even if you end up losing the claim. You will only pay a success fee if you receive compensation.

To find out if you have a valid claim, enter your details into our online claim form or call 0800 032 3660 to speak to a friendly legal adviser.

What is cauda equina syndrome?

The cauda equina, Latin translation for horse’s tail, is a bundle of nerve roots shaped like a horse’s tail located at the bottom of the spinal cord. When the nerve roots get compressed due to trauma or medical conditions, it will affect the bowel, bladder, sexual organs and lower limbs.

Nerve compression can cause pain, weakness, incontinence, sexual dysfunction and other symptoms. It is not a life-threatening condition, but, left untreated, it can cause permanent damage, including paralysis.

Cauda equina syndrome is a rare disorder that affects approximately 2 in 100,000 people in the UK. Between 2010 and 2011, there were 981 surgical decompressions linked to a cauda equina back injury.

There are two types of cauda equina syndrome:

  • Complete cauda equina syndrome: is characterised by painless urinary retention and incontinence due to loss of bladder control. In addition, it can also cause bowel retention or incontinence. Usually, it also implies extensive saddle and genital sensory deficit.
  • Incomplete cauda equina syndrome: patients develop bladder and bowel problems such as weak urinary stream, loss of urgency or increased urgency sensation, without retention or incontinence.

You cannot prevent all causes of cauda equina, but you can reduce the risk of a herniated spinal disk by following some tips:

  • avoid wearing high heels
  • stop smoking, as tobacco might weaken your spinal disks
  • practice a good posture
  • exercise to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • stretch your body periodically
  • lift weights correctly

The disabling nature of cauda equina can have life-changing and financially devastating effects on the patient and their family. A cauda equina syndrome compensation claim can help lift the financial burden and provide treatment opportunities that are not always available through the National Health Service.

If you feel you may have a valid claim for compensation, call 0800 032 3660 or request a call back to receive a free consultation with a trained legal adviser.

What are the symptoms of cauda equina?

Not every person will experience the same signs if they develop cauda equina syndrome. Nonetheless, several particular symptoms or red flags should alert your GP and make them refer you to a hospital for urgent investigation. These symptoms include:

  • sciatica in your back or legs
  • severe low back pain
  • sudden sexual dysfunction
  • weakness of the lower legs muscles
  • saddle anaesthesia, numbness or tingling in the groin and inner thighs
  • urinary retention
  • lower body paralysis
  • poor leg reflexes
  • bladder or bowel dysfunction causing retention or incontinence

Severe back pain, incontinence, sexual dysfunction and saddle anaesthesia are signs that you need urgent investigation and might require emergency surgery.

The onset of cauda equina syndrome can be gradual or acute:

  • in acute onset, severe sensory and motor deficits associated with the condition start suddenly
    in gradual onset, the symptoms may come and go over several months, getting worse gradually

If you’ve had symptoms for a while before visiting a healthcare professional or surgery doesn’t alleviate your symptoms, your cauda equina syndrome will be labelled as chronic.

What are the main causes of cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina is a syndrome that occurs more often in adults than in children. Compression, trauma, medical conditions or other injuries to this region of the spine can cause nerve damage and the onset of typical signs and symptoms.

The most common cause of cauda equina syndrome is a ruptured or herniated vertebral disk in the lumbar area. Other causes include:

  • spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal
  • birth anomalies
  • postoperative lumbar spine complications
  • a spinal lesion or tumour
  • chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid disease, ankylosing spondylitis, neurosarcoidosis, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • spinal haemorrhages or infections such as meningitis or abscess
  • complications of spinal anaesthesia
  • side-effects of certain medication
  • trauma to the lower back due to a car accident or fall
  • a penetrating injury like knife or bullet wounds
  • surgical errors

Regardless of what caused your condition, if a healthcare professional fails to diagnose or properly treat it, you may be entitled to make a cauda equina syndrome claim.

What are the risks if cauda equina is not diagnosed or treatment is delayed?

Based on red flag symptoms and worrying signs, a doctor should make a diagnosis based on several factors:

  • your medical history and recent activities
  • a physical examination and blood tests
  • an MRI and CT scan
  • a myelogram, namely a spine x-ray after injecting a contrast substance

To reduce the extent of nerve damage and increase the chances of a good outcome, surgery must be performed within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Without a proper diagnosis or treatment, the nerve damage sustained can cause lifelong complications such as:

  • lower body paralysis
  • impaired bladder or bowel function
  • loss of sexual function
  • permanent nerve damage
  • sciatic pain
  • sensory abnormality
  • muscle weakness in the lower body
  • severe pain

Once a patient becomes incontinent or unable to pass urine or have a bowel movement, surgery is unlikely to improve the condition, and the prognosis is poor.

If you suffered permanent disability due to delayed treatment, you might be entitled to make a cauda equina syndrome compensation claim. To start your claim, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 032 3660 for a free consultation.

How much compensation will I receive for a successful cauda equina claim?

A successful cauda equina claim can make a significant difference in your life. You can recover damages and claim for:

  • Lost earnings, including future losses if your condition won’t allow you to go back to work, permanently or for a while
  • Costs for future surgery
  • Funds for treatments that might improve the condition, like physiotherapy, medication, psychological support, pain management
  • Costs of care, if you are no longer able to take care of yourself or carry out housework, and you need outside help and assistance
  • Compensation for your pain and suffering caused by short and long-term effects of cauda equina syndrome
  • Loss of amenities and reduced life quality
  • Vehicle and home alterations required due to disabilities
  • Special aids and equipment to improve life quality
  • Funds to cover travel expenses, holiday and leisure costs

The amount of compensation you might receive if you are able to establish you were a victim of medical negligence depends a lot on the severity of your condition and whether there’s a chance for recovery.

In the UK, the national average compensation settlement for cauda equina claims is £360,203. Nonetheless, there have been numerous settlements where the victim received up to £2,000,000-£3,000,000.

To find out what your compensation prospects might be, enter your details into our online claim form or call free on 0800 032 3660 to speak to a legal adviser. They will evaluate your situation and answer any questions you might have.

How long do I have to make a claim for cauda equina syndrome?

If you want to claim for cauda equina, the time limit for medical negligence claims is usually three years from the date of knowledge. After three years, your case will become time-barred, and you will no longer have the right to compensation.

The three-year limitation does not apply to children. A litigation friend, usually a parent, guardian or close family member, can claim on their behalf at any point before turning 18. Afterwards, they have until they’re 21 to make their own claim.

There is no time limit to make a cauda equina syndrome claim on behalf of someone who lacks mental capacity. This can be due to cognitive impairment or disturbance such as a learning disability or mental illness.

It is advisable to contact a solicitor as soon as possible after becoming aware of your condition. This way, they will have plenty of time to gather evidence and build a strong compensation claim.

If you feel you may have a valid claim for compensation, call 0800 032 3660 or request a call back to receive a free consultation with a legal adviser.

* Personal injury claims are offered on a no win, no fee basis. If your claim is successful, your solicitor will receive up to 25% of your compensation as their success fee. Any additional costs, such as legal protection insurance, will be clearly explained to you by your solicitor before you decide to proceed with your claim. Termination fees may apply if you fail to cooperate with your solicitor. This includes deliberately misleading your solicitor, failing to attend scheduled medical or expert examinations, or not appearing at a required court hearing.