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Is cauda equina syndrome a permanent disability?

View profile for Carla Duprey
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Is cauda equina syndrome a permanent disability?

Cauda equina syndrome itself is not a permanent disability. However, if a person who develops cauda equina syndrome does not get prompt treatment at the key time, then they can be left with permanent disabilities. These can range from ongoing pain to bladder and bowel control problems or paralysis.

Even with immediate treatment, some people may not recover complete function. However, the best outcomes for cauda equina syndrome occur with earlier treatment and in these cases the person may have very minimal or no ongoing problems. Recovery very much depends on the duration of the symptoms and the degree of damage sustained.

Can you walk with cauda equina syndrome?

Most people are able to walk with cauda equina syndrome. Early signs of the syndrome can include changes in bowel and bladder function, a loss of feeling in the groin area and leg pain. The longer the syndrome goes untreated, the more damage is caused and this may then result in a person being unable to walk or being paralysed.

Can I work with cauda equina?

Again, this depends upon the duration of your symptoms and your employment role, but often the person can no longer work due to pain, loss of muscle power, due to continence issues or from a combination of these symptoms.

Is foot drop a symptom of cauda equina?

Foot drop can sometimes be a sign of cauda equina syndrome. Foot drop is a condition where the foot loses its ability to flex properly and will droop down. The movement of your foot is controlled by your muscles and nerves and so foot drop can be an indication that the person is suffering some form of nerve damage (including cauda equine syndrome). 

How long does it take to recover from cauda equina syndrome?

Recovering from the surgery to treat cauda equine syndrome can take about four to six weeks. How long it takes to make a full recovery can vary depending upon the duration of the symptoms prior to surgery and the degree of damage sustained.

If cauda equina syndrome is not treated quickly enough, then you may be left with permanent disabilities, meaning that you will not make a full recovery.

How common is cauda equina?

Cauda equina syndrome is a relatively rare condition, with an incidence in the population of between 1 in 33,000 to 1 in 100,000. Acute cauda equina syndrome that results in nerve damage is extremely rare.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to the negligence of a medical or health professional , including the delay in diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome, then we may be able to help you pursue a claim for compensation. Our leading team of experts are on hand to offer advice, so please get in touch with us on 0161 696 6165 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you directly.


    • Health cauda equina Sheila Cox
    • Posted

    Hi there I was on so much pain I was crawling around the house for a year whilst I was going to the hospital 🏥 and getting sent home all the time after numerous attempts to get them to listen I was once giving morphing and sent home an hour later 

    Wen I actually got my m.r.i they called me up to tell me to get to hospital and I was then rushed from Bangor to Liverpool and operated on within 20 mins but they didn’t get it right and after 8 days recovery n Liverpool they did another one and wanted to open up the next day but I was so sore I went home but I had to go back within a month to operate again then my foot felt encased in ice so they opened me up after I had a disc bulge that was in 2010 and I’ve been living with this awful condition for anyone who reads this make sure you don’t take NO FOR AN ANSWER INSIST ON AN MRI OR YOUR LIFE WILL BE OVER I HAVE TO CATHETER MY URUNE AND A MACHINE CALLED PERISTEEN FOR MY BOWELS IM HOUSEBOUND AND LIVE IN MY BEDROOM MAINLY BECAUSE OF MY FOOT BRING NUMB AND FROZEN 24/7 365 !! Please don’t let this happen to you cxx