Suffering from an acute cauda equina syndrome is an uncommon, but neurologically very significant pathology; an anatomical compression of nerve roots, usually caused by a lumbar disk hernia, is a common cause in the western population (Panos et al., 2016). Being a bundle of nerve, it is called after a horse’s tail, to which it resembles.
The cauda equina is part of the spinal cord, allowing transmission of signals from and to the brain for movement control, sensation and visceral function.
Cauda equina syndrome describes severe pressure and swelling of the nerves at the end of the spinal cord. Symptoms can be: paralysis, impaired bladder and/or bowel control, difficulty walking and/or other neurological and physical issues amongst severe back pain.
This is usually caused by: herniated lumbosacral disk, spinal stenosis, hematoma, trauma and spinal neoplasm (tumor).
Definitive treatment involves prompt surgical decompression with a dependency of the outcome on the timing of the operation (Mehta et al., 2015).
Panos G. et al., 2016, Differential diagnosis and treatment of acute cauda equina syndrome in the human immunodeficiency virus positive patient: a case report and review of the literature, Journal of Medical Case Reports, 10 (165); 10.1186/s13256-016-0902-y
Metha N. et al., 2015, Documentation of Focal Neurology on Patients with Suspected Cauda Equina Syndrome and the Development of an Assessment Proforma, The Open Orthopaedics Journal, 9, pp: 390-394