Cauda equina syndrome

CES, saddle anaesthesia, nerve root pain

What is cauda equina syndrome?

Cauda equina syndrome is a rare and serious spinal condition where the nerves in the lower back become compressed. Cauda equina is the name given to the collection of nerves at the end of the spinal cord.

What causes cauda equina syndrome?

Some possible causes of cauda equina syndrome are: spinal injury, infections of the cauda equina or a large slipped disc (when the soft tissue of a disc in the spine pushes out).

What are the symptoms of cauda equina syndrome?

Symptoms of cauda equina syndrome include:

  • weakness and numbness in both legs
  • numbness around your genitals or anus
  • finding it hard to pee
  • not realising when you need to poo

An MRI scan can confirm whether your symptoms are caused by cauda equina syndrome. This condition needs emergency surgery as it can lead to permanent paralysis.

Are you affected by Cauda equina syndrome?

If you’re affected by cauda equina syndrome, The Brain Charity can support you.

We are the only charity in the UK to be here for every one of the more than 600 different neurological conditions in existence. Individually, many are rare, but combined, they affect 1 in 6 people.

We provide practical help on all aspects of living with cauda equina syndrome, emotional support such as counselling, phone befriending and group therapy and social activities to people with cauda equina syndrome from all over the UK from our centre in Liverpool.

Looking to talk to someone?

Woman smiling, making eye contact and holding the hand of another woman to comfort her

Phone us

Contact The Brain Charity now

Our friendly Information & Advice Officers are here to help. We endeavour to respond to all enquiries within 10 working days.

0151 298 2999

Looking to talk to someone?

  • Please tell us which neurological condition you are affected by and what you need support with.

Caring for someone affected by Cauda equina syndrome

If your loved one has developed any of the symptoms above, seek urgent medical attention.

Those living with cauda equina syndrome may be unable to work because of the severe pain and bowel and bladder issues. These difficulties can cause distress and may lead to depression. Therefore, it is extremely important that they are surrounded by supportive friends and family.

We support carers, friends and family too

Are you a carer for or relative of someone with cauda equina syndrome? It’s just as important for you to look after your own physical and mental wellbeing too.

The Brain Charity provides free support for carers, friends and family of people with any form of neurological condition, including cauda equina syndrome, from anywhere in the UK.

We also run an additional carers advocacy service for all carers in Liverpool, regardless of which type of condition the person they care for has.

You don’t need to be a formal or registered carer

We can help you even if you don’t view yourself as a formal carer or claim Carer’s Allowance. Find out some of the ways we support carers below.

Other resources

The Brain Charity's library

The library at The Brain Charity has a range of resources on a wide range of disability-related issues

Support groups

Cauda Equina Syndrome Facebook group (Cauda Equina Syndrome Association)

Support groups at The Brain Charity

Are you interested in setting up a support group for cauda equina syndrome, or do you already run one? Email to let us know.

Alternatively, you can check out our list of related support groups here.

Other charities

Cauda Equina Syndrome UK (organisation giving everyone living with CES information, advice and support)

General helpline: 0800 989 0053

Cauda Equina Syndrome Association (charity raising awareness of CES)

Helpline 03335 777113

Spinal Injuries Association (association helping spinal cord injured people lead fulfilled lives)