Cauda Equina Syndrome
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Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) is a rare and serious condition affecting the bundle of nerve roots in the lower back that send electrical signals to and from the pelvic region and lower parts of the body. CES results from compression or inflammation of these nerve roots, which causes symptoms of pain, a reduction of sensation, and decreased muscle strength. If left untreated, CES can commonly lead to leg paralysis, and loss of bladder and bowel function. Surgical intervention is commonly necessary.
What Causes Cauda Equina Syndrome?
The most common cause of CES is a herniated disk or ruptured disk in the lower back. However, only a small percentage of herniated disks develop into CES. Trauma or a severe blow to the back, such as falling off a ladder, or getting hit from behind with an object can cause CES. Other causes are tumor, infection, spinal fracture, or accidental causes during a medical or surgical treatment.
What are the Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome?
Commonly, low back pain is experienced. Pain originating in the buttocks, will travel down one or both legs and generally will produce a deep or sharp, stabbing pain. A loss of sensation in the legs and groin area accompanied by urination and bowel trouble or incontinence indicates signs of nerve compression. It is extremely important that these symptoms be addressed as soon as they begin.
Diagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome
If you experience symptoms of CES, a physician will take a thorough personal history and will perform a variety of tests that include x-rays, MRIs, strength testing, and sensation testing. The doctor will also rule out other possible conditions such as a herniated disk. Not all people with back pain and urinary incontinence have CES and further testing can rule out alternate causes such as urinary tract infections.
Treatment of Cauda Equina Syndrome
Although some people respond well to anti-inflammatory drugs, surgery to address the problem is most common and that unfortunately does not always work. If you experience loss of sensation in the groin area and urinary and bowel incontinence, these symptoms are considered a surgical emergency, and it is advisable to seek out a medical professional for treatment, no more than 24 hours from the onset. In a short amount of time, the compression can cause permanent nerve damage, and prompt surgery to decompress the nerves is considered crucial to a full recovery.
Work Related Personal Injury Cauda Equina Syndrome
CES most commonly occurs in herniated disk cases, and out of those cases, CES occurs most frequently in persons with chronic low back pain. Repetitive lifting of heavy objects, excessive strain, twisting, improper lifting, or work that aggravates or accelerates the condition would result in an Illinois work injury claim.
Also, CES can occur during back trauma. For example, consider a case where a worker falls from a ladder or scaffolding, incurs a blow to the back by moving machinery or equipment, or is rear-ended in a car accident after being dispatched to a job site.
Medically Malpractice and Cauda Equina Syndrome
Another leading cause of CES is through errors that occur during medical or surgical treatment. During back surgery, a physician can position screws or other instruments in the spine, which can compress and injure the nerves. Prolonged periods of spinal aesthesia during surgery or labor can also cause CES. If you are taking blood thinning medicine and a physician draws fluid from the spine for diagnostic purposes (spinal tap), blood can coagulate around the needle site, compress the nerves, and cause CES.
Physicians, triage nurses, and other medical personnel have misdiagnosed, have completely overlooked the condition, or have not responded in a timely manner to diagnose and treat the condition. This situation can lead to paralysis and has medical malpractice implications.
Personal Injury Cauda Equina Syndrome
Back trauma in personal injury cases can cause CES. For instance, if you are involved in a car accident, the force of the impact can result in a herniated disk and sudden onset CES from bruising, inflammation, and compression. Knife wounds and gunshot wounds near the site of the nerve root bundle can also cause CES.
Whether your Cauda Equina Syndrome is work related, caused by medical malpractice, or is the result of a personal injury during a car accident, your attorney should work on a contingency basis. This means that you will not pay any attorneys' fees unless you obtain a recovery. Also, your attorneys should advance all of the associated costs of the litigation. You should not be paying anything out of pocket. If you win, all fees, costs and expenses will come from the recovery amount.
Choosing an Attorney
There is no such thing as the best Illinois Cauda Equina Syndrome lawyer, but rather you need to find out who is best for your unique case. This is why people come to us. No matter how you acquired CES, any medical malpractice attorney that we recommend will have handled scores of similar back injury cases in past. This doesn't guarantee a result, but does give you the best chance for a successful result. Their first successful (or unsuccessful) case won't be from trial and error on you.
If you would like our help in finding a law firm in Illinois with significant Cauda Equina Syndrome experience, please contact us at (800) 517-1614. We will speak with you for free and do whatever we can to help you. All calls are free and confidential. We are based in Chicago, but help everywhere in Illinois.