Cauda Equina Syndrome Pain

Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is a rare disorder. In patients with cauda equina syndrome, something compresses on the multiple spinal nerve roots in the lower lumbar area. This may require fast treatment to prevent lasting damage leading to incontinence and possibly permanent paralysis of the legs.

Cauda Equina Syndrome

Cauda Equina

Bundle of multiple spinal nerve roots in the lower lumbar area. The area at the end of the spinal cord, typically levels L1-L5 and contains axons of nerves that give both motor and sensory innervation to the legs, bladder, anus, and perineum.

cauda equina syndrome

How long does Cauda Equina Syndrome last?

Cauda Equina Syndrome is a surgical emergency.  If patients do not receive treatment quickly, issues may arise such as paralysis, impaired bladder, and/or bowel control, difficulty walking, and/or other neurological and physical problems.

After the body has recovered from surgery, amount of time varies before the nerves are restored. Sometimes this can take years to achieve, and generally speaking medical professionals say that symptoms will improve for up to two years after surgery.


Causes of Cauda Equina Syndrome

The most common causes:

  • A severe ruptured disk in the lumbar area (the most common cause)
  • Narrowing of the spinal canal (Spinal Stenosis)
  • A spinal lesion or malignant tumor
  • A spinal infection, inflammation, hemorrhage, or fracture
  • A complication from a severe lumbar spine event such as a car crash, fall, gunshot, or stabbing
  • A birth defect such as an abnormal connection between blood vessels (arteriovenous malformation)

Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome

Symptoms vary and may come on slowly. They also mimic other conditions. If you have any of these symptoms, see your medical professional right away:

  • Severe low back pain
  • Pain, numbness, or weakness in one or both legs that causes you to stumble or have trouble getting up from a chair
  • Recent problem with bladder or bowel function, such as trouble eliminating urine or waste (retention) or trouble holding it (incontinence)
  • Sexual dysfunction that has come on suddenly
  • Loss of or altered sensations in your legs, buttocks, inner thighs, backs of your legs, or feet that is severe or gets worse and worse; you may experience this as trouble feeling anything in the areas of your body that would sit in a saddle (called saddle anesthesia)


Andrew Quaile. 2019 Apr;43(4):957-961. doi: 10.1007/s00264-018-4208-0. Epub 2018 Oct 29.
Leo R Spector Luke MadiganAlfred RhyneBruce Darden 2ndDavid Kim 2008 Aug;16(8):471-9. doi: 10.5435/00124635-200808000-00006.