What Are The Red Flag Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome?
Cauda Equina Syndrome is a spinal nerve root injury that can cause bladder and bowel disturbances, leg weakness, sexual dysfunction, chronic pain, and even paralysis; especially when left untreated. Cauda Equina Syndrome is misdiagnosed most of the time as general back pain.
Cauda Equina Syndrome is considered to be a rare condition, and it is severely under researched. The guideline currently set for surgery is within 48 hours of diagnosis for the best outcome in most patients. Yet doctors and hospitals continue to miss the Red Flag symptoms of CES. They missed it in my case and in many others.
This has to change because the numbers of Cauda Equina Syndrome patients are growing and too many lives are being destroyed. CES is not only a physically debilitating condition, but it is also mentally challenging as well. It affects relationships, parenting, and the ability to financially care for ourselves and our families.
Is There HELP for Cauda Equina Syndrome Patients?
The Cauda Equina Foundation serves to improve the quality of life and care for individual’s living with Cauda Equina Syndrome and our vision is to eradicate the devastating neurological deficits caused by Cauda Equina Syndrome. There is no known cure, only early detection and treatment can improve patient outcomes.
The Cauda Equina Foundation is diligently working to raise awareness for Cauda Equina Syndrome as well as providing free, continuing education credits for healthcare providers to improve timely diagnosis and treatment for those with CES.
When a patient presents themselves to an ER, doctors and caregivers are missing the Red Flag Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome. This is what happened in my case. Several doctors and hospitals chalked my symptoms up as sciatica for nearly a year, when all they had to do was order an MRI, which is the golden ticket to diagnosing Cauda Equina Syndrome.
So What Are The Red Flag Symptoms to Look for In Cauda Equina Syndrome?
These are the Red Flag Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome:
If a patient comes to the ER in extreme duress from pain and presents with any or all of these symptoms, an MRI should be ordered. The sooner the patient is diagnosed, the better the outcome. There are only a handful of success stories where patients have been diagnosed in time, and their outcomes are much better than most of us that are left with permanent damage.
What If The Red Flag Symptoms Are Missed?
My body was shouting out the Red Flag Symptoms from the time I got hurt, yet I was told it was sciatica for nearly a year before I woke up and couldn’t feel anything from the waist down. I had surgery in 2016 and am now left with chronic Cauda Equina Syndrome.
So what does that mean? It means that I am left with permanent damage. If you would like to know some of what I feel, just go sit on your toilet until your legs go numb. Then stand up and try to walk. My legs feel like they weigh fifty pounds each.
When I walk, the muscles in my legs feel like rubber bands that just want to snap. I’m constantly stretching them when I’m sitting down or lying in bed and I feel like I’m never at rest. I can’t stand anything touching my feet because they are both numb, but when I do feel things touching them, it doesn’t feel good. Although my feet are numb, they hurt. There is a deep ache from the inside out.
My right foot has drop foot and if I don’t wear an Ankle Foot Orthotic (AFO) brace when I walk my foot just flops around, literally. My foot also feels like it is locked in a cramp and I can’t move all of my toes.
My right thigh is still very numb and has a big patch of swelling that nobody knows how to get rid of. My legs are very weak and feel like they are going to give out at any given moment. They cannot feel hot and cold sensations. Sometimes my feet and legs itch, but when I scratch it the itch is deeper. It isn’t on the surface of my skin. I feel like there are bugs crawling on my feet.
I also have saddle anesthesia and I always feel like I have a “wedgie,” and am constantly trying to pull something out, that isn’t in. I feel pins and needles on my skin and sometimes I feel it in my vagina. I cannot walk long distances and when I do walk, I need to use a cane or my walker.
Taking a shower isn’t relaxing and refreshing anymore. It is a task. I have to work my way up to it, and it’s tiring. I cannot sit for long periods or my spine starts throbbing and swelling up around my tail bone. Sometimes I get a feeling of little bubbles going up and down my spine and it hurts. I also get electrical jolts now and then which seem to come from nowhere.
I am one of the lucky ones, I can void on my own, but I cannot hold it. I also still have control of my bowels. I am tired all of the time and I feel ALL of this from the time I close my eyes till the time I wake up. I am in constant pain every single day.
I have chronic Cauda Equina Syndrome and this is what I get to look forward to for the rest of my life, all because the medical field failed me and many others by missing our red flag symptoms.
If you are in the medical field, join the Cauda Equina Foundation and get educated on CES and the red flag symptoms. We have wall posters for your ER we are happy to provide you with and more! Please contact Cauda Equina Foundation NOW to help raise awareness of the Red Flag Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome.