In 2014, Mr Smith twisted his back when he slipped on ice. Despite attending St Mary’s hospital complaining of a lack of feeling in his legs, Mr Smith was sent home with a muscle relaxant. It wasn’t until the following day that Mr Smith was given a MRI scan, which confirmed a diagnosis of Cauda Equina. There was a further delay following the diagnosis before Mr Smith was sent for surgery.

By then it was too late to prevent permanent spinal damage leaving Mr Smith wheelchair bound.

Cauda Equina is rare, but in the majority of cases urgent surgery is required to prevent permanent disability. It is caused by the compression of the nerves at the bottom of the spine.

In the past, doctors resisted diagnosing Cauda Equina unless a patient presented with a particular set of symptoms. Hence, this increased the chance of a delayed diagnosis. In some cases, doctors failed to consider the syndrome at all.

In 2018, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, N.I.C.E, revised their red flag symptoms to prevent the same from happening in the future. Red flag symptoms now include:

1. Pain/numbness in both legs.

2. Lack of muscle strength in the legs and toes.

3. Difficulty urinating.

4. Constant feeling of needing to empty bowels.

5. A reduced sensation around the area between the legs (saddle anaesthesia).

6. Looseness of the muscle ring surrounding the anal canal.

Cauda Equina can develop within 24 hours, or over the course of weeks/months.

If you suspect yourself or a loved one of having Cauda Equina, please seek emergency medical treatment as soon as possible. A delay in diagnosis/treatment can have life changing consequences.

Freeths’ Clinical Negligence Solicitors have a national reputation for providing the highest quality advice. If you, or a loved one have suffered from a delayed diagnosis/treatment then we may be able to help you. Please contact one of our national team:-

Siobhan Genever, Director (Nottingham) on 0845 271 6793 or

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/Milton Keynes) on 0186 578 1019 or

Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Stoke) on 0845 272 5677 or

Jane Williams, Partner (Leicester) on 0845 272 5724 or

For further information please also visit our website at: