The medical emergency you've never heard of that causes back pain, incontinence and permanent numbness down there | The Sun

WHEN you are in pain, it can be tricky to decide whether to take serious action.

Especially when the symptoms are not immediately debilitating.

But there is one little-known condition, which can be easily brushed off as something minor, that can lead to life-long disabilities if not treated quickly.

Cauda equina syndrome (CES) is an incredibly rare but serious condition – affecting approximately 8,000 people in England every year.

In 2021, Ronan Keating's wife Storm has revealed she had been diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome and was recovering post spinal surgery.

Surgery to free up the compressed nerves is usually necessary within the first 24 hours of symptoms emerging, the NHS says.

Read more on CES


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Without urgent treatment the possible consequences can be devastating, including paralysis or irreversible damage to bladder and bowel function, and sexual dysfunction. 

CES is usually triggered by a slipped disk in the lower back.

This is when  a soft cushion of tissue between the bones in your spine pushes out of place, putting pressure on the spinal cord.

A slipped disc can be caused by ageing, exercising too hard or lifting heavy objects the wrong way.

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According to the NHS, symptoms include:

  • sciatica on both sides
  • weakness or numbness in both legs that is severe or getting worse
  • numbness around or under your genitals, or around your anus
  • finding it hard to start peeing, can't pee or can't control when you pee – and this isn't normal for you
  • you don't notice when you need to poo or can't control when you poo – and this isn't normal for you

If you think you have symptoms of CES seek medical help immediately.

The longer it goes untreated, the greater your risk of permanent damage.

Surgeons can relieve the pressure by operating on the

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