The cauda equina is a bundle of nerves located at the base of the spinal cord. The structure resembles a horse’s tail (hence the name) and contains the nerves that run from the base of the spinal cord into the body’s lower extremities, including the saddle area, legs and feet. Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) is a rare medical condition in which the nerves or the cauda equina become damaged. This can lead to a number of painful and debilitating symptoms, including lower back pain, numbness and/or tingling in the saddle area and lower extremities, weakness, numbness or pain in the legs, sexual dysfunction and incontinence of bladder and/or bowels.
When a doctor or other healthcare professional examines a patient who displays the red flag symptoms of CES, it’s important to conduct the necessary tests to confirm or deny a diagnosis of CES. CES is a medical emergency, generally requiring spinal decompression surgery. Surgery must be performed within 24-48 hours of diagnosis or the symptoms of CES may become permanent.
Making a recovery from CES depends on how long the nerves were compressed and how much damage was done before surgery was performed. In some cases surgery might not prevent permanent nerve damage.
The Symptoms of Cauda Equina Syndrome Can Cause Depression
Depression is a common complication of CES and other chronic conditions. The physical impairments of CES cause tremendous upheavals in a person’s lifestyle, severely limiting their freedom of movement, making it impossible to pursue the activities they once enjoyed. Symptoms like incontinence and impotence can undermine self-esteem. As a result, they are often plagued by feelings of sadness and despair. The side effects of the medications they take to control their pain can also contribute to depression.
It’s important for patients, their families and healthcare providers to recognize the signs of CES depression:
- Depressed mood
- Loss of interest, apathy
- Difficulties with concentration
- Suicidal thoughts
These feelings of depression can cause a deterioration of the patient’s physical condition, which in turn results in worsening depression. It’s a vicious cycle that often makes treatment difficult.
There are many ways to alleviate feelings of depression if you suffer from CES. Start by learning all you can about managing your CES. Realize that depression is a common side effect of CES and how to recognize the signs. Get help as soon as you begin to experience feelings of depression. Reach out to family members, friends, physicians and therapists for help and support. Talk to your doctor about changing your medication, if you think that may help. Join a CES support group.
Financial Stress and CES
The economic stress caused by conditions like CES — the medical bills, lost wages, etc. — often result in apprehension and feelings of hopelessness. If you are unable to pay your bills or enjoy life due to a medical professional’s misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose or delay in diagnosing CES, you may be able to recover compensation for your physical pain and emotional suffering, medical bills, lost wages and other damages resulting from their error.
Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney Lisa Levine has specializes in and has extensive experience working with clients who suffer from CES as a result of a medical error. Her goal is to alleviate the economic stresses placed on her clients by their CES and bring hope back to their lives. Lisa knows the physical and emotional pain associated with conditions like CES and fights tirelessly to secure for her clients the compensation they deserve. Contact the law offices of Lisa Levine today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options for filing a CES medical malpractice lawsuit.