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What is the cauda equina syndrome?

The cauda equina is a bundle of nerves at the lower end of your spine. If it becomes pinched (compressed) between the discs of the spine or other tissues (such as a tumor), it causes a medical emergency called cauda equina syndrome. The main symptoms of cauda equina syndrome are low back pain, loss of urinary or bowel control, and loss of feeling and control in the saddle area, inner thighs and back of legs. While this condition is fairly rare, the risk is higher in people who have had back problems stemming from trauma to the spine due to a fall or car accident, arthritis (ankylosing spondylitis), spinal stenosis, or spina bifida. Cauda equina syndrome needs immediate diagnosis and treatment by a specialist in neurosurgery, neurology or orthopedic surgery. If you have sudden back pain, or any loss of feeling or control in your lower body, sudden incontinence or retention of urine, get emergency care right away. Failure to receive treatment can cause a number of serious problems, including permanent paralysis.

The cauda equina syndrome is when the cauda equina is severely compressed and leads to neurologic deficits.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.