Cauda Equina Syndrome

This page give you more information on what to look for.

Low back pain warning signs

In very rare cases low back pain with a combination of other symptoms can be a sign of a serious pathology.

Cauda equina syndrome is a rare but serious condition where the nerves in the lower spine are compressed. These nerves supply the legs, bladder, bowel and sexual organs. If left untreated damage can be permanent.

It is considered a clinical emergency and we advise that you call NHS 111 immediately if you have developed symptoms and not spoken to a clinician.

Although the condition typically occurs suddenly in some case it progresses. A list of signs and symptoms to look out for are listed below with additional information cards provided in a wide range of languages.

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Signs and Symptoms

  •  Loss of feeling/pins and needles between your inner thighs or genitals
  • Numbness in or around your back passage or buttocks
  • Altered feeling when using toilet paper to wipe yourself
  • Increasing difficulty when you try to urinate
  • Increasing difficulty when you try to stop or control your flow of urine
  • Loss of sensation when you pass urine
  • Leaking urine or recent need to use pads
  • Not knowing when your bladder is either full or empty
  • Inability to stop a bowel movement or leaking
  • Loss of sensation when you pass a bowel motion
  • Change in ability to achieve an erection or ejaculate
  • Loss of sensation in genitals during sexual intercourse
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Any combination seek help immediately

If you have previously spoken to a clinician and your symptoms have progressed, worsened or changed and you are unable to speak with your clinician again then don’t wait, please contact NHS 111 immediately to seek help.