Cauda Equina Warning Signs

Cauda Equina Syndrome Warning Signs

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Many patients have a combination of back pain, leg pain, leg numbness and weakness. These symptoms can be distressing for you but don’t necessarily require emergency medical attention. A rare but serious back condition, Cauda Equina Syndrome, can lead to permanent damage or disability and will need to be seen by a Emergency Specialist Spinal Team.

Below is a list of simple questions designed to establish if a patient has red flag symptoms. If you answer yes to any of these questions, please attend your local Emergency department immediately.

  • Loss of feeling/pins and needles between your inner thighs or genitals.
  • Numbness in or around your back passage or buttocks
  • Altered feeling when using toilet paper to wipe yourself.
  • Increasing difficulty when trying to stop or control your flow of urine.
  • Loss of sensation when you pass urine.
  • Leaking urine or recent need to use pads.
  • Not knowing when your bladder is either full or empty.
  • Inability to stop a bowel movement or leaking.
  • Loss of sensation when you pass a bowel motion.
  • Change in ability to achieve an erection or ejaculate.
  • Loss of sensation in genitals during sexual intercourse.

These information card questions have been developed by Consultant Physiotherapists Dr Susan Greenhalgh, Chris Mercer and Laura Finucane and have been translated into over 32 different languages and can be accessed here as information cards to print out: