Cauda Equina Syndrome
Low back pain is common, and in most cases, it improves without surgery. But severe back pain can be a symptom of a serious condition that is not well known and is often misdiagnosed. Cauda equina syndrome (CES) occurs when the buddle of nerve roots at the lower end of the spinal cord (cauda equina) are compressed and disrupt motor and sensory function to the lower extremities and bladder. Patients with this syndrome are often admitted to the hospital as a medical emergency. CES can lead to incontinence and even permanent paralysis.
The collection of nerves at the end of the spinal cord is known as the cauda equina, due to its resemblance to a horse's tail. The spinal cord ends at the upper portion of the lumbar (lower back) spine. The individual nerve roots at the end of the spinal cord provide motor and sensory function to the legs and the bladder. The cauda equina is the continuation of these nerve roots. These nerves send and receive messages to and from the lower limbs and pelvic organs.