Car crashes and cauda equina syndrome: What to know
You were driving along when another driver suddenly rear-ended you. The jolt was strong, but your airbag deployed properly and dropped you right back into your seat.
In fact, you dropped back into your seat very hard – and the pain in your back was severe. Unfortunately, the situation could get a lot worse if you develop cauda equina syndrome.
What’s cauda equina syndrome?
Cauda equina syndrome is a severe disruption of the nerve activity in your lower spine. It’s commonly caused by herniated discs – which can happen suddenly in a car accident as you’re thrust forward and thrown back again. While not life-threatening, it is a medical emergency.
What’s happened is that the bundles of nerve roots at the base of your spinal cord have become compressed. Without prompt surgical relief, you can end up with:
- Permanent paralysis or weakness below the waist and sexual dysfunction
- Loss of sensation to the “saddle area” of the body, including the buttocks and genitals
- Urinary retention (because your body no longer feels the usual urge to go)
- Urinary and fecal incontinence because of overall dysfunction in the bladder and sphincter muscles
- Tingling or burning sensations in your legs and feet
- Chronic pain
If you have any of these symptoms following a car crash, the potential for a catastrophic outcome is high without immediate medical care, so get an evaluation. It’s far better to spend a few hours in a hospital emergency room than end up with lifelong complications from your crash.
It’s wise to remember that life-changing motor vehicle accidents happen every day. If one happens to you (or someone you love), make sure that you find out more about your right to fair compensation for your losses.