Watkins Medical Centre
Level 8, 225 Wickham Terrace,
Spring Hill QLD, 4000

All appointments
Phone: (07) 3831 7034

What is a cauda equina syndrome ?

The cauda equina is the remnant of the spinal cord that is present in the lumbar spine. As a baby the end of the spinal cord is at the end of the lumbar spine. However the spinal cord is unable to grow by a change in length. Therefore, as a child grows in height, the end of the spinal cord migrates upwards and stretches the nerves that it gave origin to. At the end of growth period, the tip of the spinal cord (the conus medularis) lies at the junction between the lumbar and the thoracic spine. The stretched nerves are enclosed in the normal membrane and fluid that surrounds the spinal cord. This is called tthe cauda equina. The cauda equina is much less prone to damage than the spinal cord.

Injuries to the cauda equina are usually caused by fractures or large massive disc protrusions. The disability depends on the site of the injury, all however are characterized by loss of control of the bowel and bladder. This causes incontinence of urine and faeces. The condition often does not recover and the incontinence may be a cause of serious long term disability and recurrent urinary tract infections. 

See also Nerve damage