Can I Claim Compensation for Cauda Equina Syndrome?

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Cauda equina syndrome is a severe condition that is considered a medical emergency. It requires urgent surgical treatment to prevent permanent damage, such as paralysis, loss of bladder and bowel control, sexual dysfunction, and severe back pain.

If your doctor or healthcare provider fails to diagnose or treat your condition correctly or makes a surgical error that causes cauda equina syndrome, you may be able to claim compensation.

Tom Hartigan, a specialist spinal injury solicitor based in our Salisbury office, explains more.

What is Cauda Equina Syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome occurs when the collection of nerves at the bottom of the spine (called the cauda equina due to its resemblance to a horse’s tail) becomes compressed. These nerves at the lower end of the spinal cord in the lumbosacral spine send and receive messages to and from your legs, feet, and pelvic organs.

Cauda Equina Symptoms

Cauda equina syndrome can cause severe, life-changing injuries, including paralysis and incontinence. It is therefore essential that doctors recognise cauda equina red flags. These critical warning signs include:

  • Intense back pain
  • Problems with bladder or bowel control, including incontinence
  • Pain, numbness, or weakness in one or both of your legs. You may stumble or have trouble getting up from a chair
  • Sexual dysfunction that comes on suddenly

How is Cauda Equina Treated?

Once you have a cauda equina diagnosis, it is vital to get medical treatment as quickly as possible (ideally within 48 hours) to relieve the pressure on the nerves in the lower spine.

Cauda equina surgery must take place promptly to prevent permanent damage to the nerves. Unfortunately, even with treatment, some people do not fully recover due to how much damage has occurred and how quickly the surgery was performed.  Any delays to your diagnosis or a missed diagnosis resulting in delays to your cauda equina treatment may mean you can make a medical negligence claim due to the risk of permanent and irreversible damage.

Making a Cauda Equina Compensation Claim

While awareness of cauda equina syndrome is growing, the medical profession can still misdiagnose the condition or fail to act quickly enough and offer treatment to prevent life-changing injuries.

You may be able to make a cauda equina compensation claim if:

  • You have developed cauda equina syndrome due to negligent errors made in surgery
  • Your cauda equina was missed or misdiagnosed because doctors failed to investigate your condition correctly. They may have failed to take a detailed medical history, not performed a thorough enough physical examination, or missed vital cauda equina red flags.
  • You experienced delays trying to get your condition investigated, resulting in waiting too long for appropriate treatment.

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome, it is vital to speak to a specialist solicitor with experience in these types of claims.

Novum Law’s specialist team is proud to be a business member of the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) and SIA’s specialist Cauda Equina Spinal Injury Group.

We have the expertise and experience to help you make a cauda equina compensation claim. Call us on 0800 884 0777 or email

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