A timely and correct diagnosis of cauda equina syndrome or arachnoiditis is vital if the patient is to get the medical treatment they require. Unfortunately, delays in treatment can occur because these two conditions share many of the same symptoms.
It’s critical that healthcare professionals have the training and experience to differentiate between arachnoiditis, CES and similar conditions to arrive at a correct diagnosis of a patient’s symptoms.
Arachnoiditis is a pain disorder that can occur when the arachnoid — the membranes that surround and protect the nerves of the spinal cord — become inflamed. It can afflict the upper, middle and lower parts of the spine. This inflammation can result in the formation of scar tissue and can cause the spinal nerves to stick together and malfunction.
Arachnoiditis can result from a spinal injury, being injected with certain types of radiographic contrast media (such as the dyes used in myelograms), infections, compression of the spinal nerves and complications from spinal surgery or other invasive spinal procedures.
Symptoms of arachnoiditis can include:
- Tingling, numbness, or weakness in the legs
- Sensations that can feel like insects crawling on the skin or water trickling down the leg
- Bladder and/or bowel dysfunction
- Severe shooting pain similar to the sensation of an electric shock
- Muscle cramps and spasms, including uncontrollable twitching
- Sexual dysfunction
As the disorder progresses, these symptoms may become more severe or even permanent. There is currently no cure for arachnoiditis, but there are therapies that can alleviate some of the pain and suffering.
Cauda Equina Syndrome
Cauda Equina Syndrome is a serious medical condition that occurs when pressure on the cauda equina — a collection of nerves located at the base of the spine — causes damage or impairs function.
CES can result from spinal injuries, infections or disease, a birth defect, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), a spinal lesion or tumor, or a degenerative condition like ankylosing spondylitis.
Symptoms of CES can include:
- Severe lower back pain
- Pain, numbness, or weakness in one or both legs
- “Saddle anesthesia” — loss of or altered sensations in the “saddle” region of the legs, buttocks, and inner thighs
- Problems with bladder or bowel function
- Sexual dysfunction
CES is a medical emergency. If a patient does not receive treatment to relieve the pressure within 24 hours of diagnosis, these symptoms may become permanent.
Can Arachnoiditis result in CES?
One reason why careful diagnosis of a patient’s back pain is so critical is because it’s possible to have both arachnoiditis and CES. Not only that, but there is mounting medical evidence that suggests nerve damage caused by chronic arachnoiditis may contribute to some forms of CES.
Speak with a Fort Lauderdale Cauda Equina Attorney
Have you developed arachnoiditis as a result of a medical error? Did the painful, debilitating symptoms of your Cauda Equina Syndrome result from a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose? You may be entitled to compensation for your damages, including pain and suffering, medical expenses and economic losses caused by the mistakes of a healthcare professional or facility.
Lisa Levine is a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based medical malpractice attorney dedicated to helping those who have been injured due to the negligence of others. She’s a nationally recognized personal injury attorney with considerable experience and success in protecting the rights of clients with rare medical conditions such as CES or arachnoiditis.
If you were injured due to an act of medical malpractice, please speak to Lisa before agreeing to a settlement with an insurance company. Contact the law offices of Lisa Levine to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.