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Cauda Equina Syndrome



If you have been seen by a chiropractor at Pinnacle Hill Chiropractic for low back pain, your provider has asked you if you have had any changes to your bowel or bladder function in the duration of your pain. Many patients are a little taken off guard by this but your provider is asking for a reason, just like with any question we ask while taking your history. Any change to a bodily function is a big deal and needs to be investigated further to identify the cause, because it may be something that we as chiropractors cannot treat and we want you to get the care you need quickly and efficiently.


One possible cause for a change in bowel or bladder function is called Cauda Equina Syndrome. The Cauda Equina is at the bottom of your spinal cord and is made up of a bundle of spinal nerves. This bundle looks similar to a horse’s tail, which is where the term Cauda Equina comes from. The spinal cord ends in the upper part of your lumbar spine and the nerve bundle continues down the spinal canal to allow motor (movement) and sensory function to your legs and pelvic organs.


Cauda Equina Syndrome is most commonly due to a large herniated disc in the lumbar spine. While many herniated discs can be treated without surgery, this specific diagnosis needs surgery immediately. If this syndrome is left untreated it can lead to permanent paralysis.


Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome that you should be aware of include:

  • acute onset of urinary incontinence or retention

  • bowel incontinence

  • loss of sensation while urinating or having a bowel movement

  • acute onset of sexual dysfunction

  • saddle paresthesia (numbness in the area where you sit on a saddle)


As mentioned, your provider is asking questions to investigate your complaint fully so your honesty in responses is imperative. If you think something is wrong, it probably is so let’s get it taken care of for you!



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