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Date of last update: 10/04/2017.

Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: Is Cauda Equina treatment an emergency?

 funsize7875 - Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:23 am

My doctor suspects Cauda Equina as the cause of my lower back and groin pain and referred me to an Orthopedic surgeon for further testing. This surgeon cannot see me though for at least three weeks. Is this the appropriate specialist for me to see? After five months of this increasing pain, is another three weeks acceptable to wait, or does this need to be treated as soon as possible? What treatment is to be expected? Thank you for any information.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Sun May 17, 2009 10:50 pm

User avatar Hello --

If your doctor has diagnosed or suspects simple cauda equina, this is a non-emergent problem and can wait til you're able to get in to see the orthopedist. However, if your doctor has said he suspects cauda equina syndrome, this is a medical emergency, since compression of lumbar nerve roots in traumatic fashion can cause permanent damage and loss of certain critical functions such as bowel and bladder control and even leg mobility. Cauda equina plain will cause much less dramatic (though still very annoying) symptoms and can be managed short term through rest and conservative treatment and is not an emergency. Since this is what you've termed the susected diagnosis, and since your doctor has referred you to a specialist and not sent you directly to an emergency care facility, I would hope this is the case, and if so, yes, it can safely wait while you deal with the discomfort with guidance from your doctor. If the word "syndrome" was appended, that changes everything.

I hope this is helpful to you. Good luck with this and please update us as to how things pan out.

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