Advising with empathy and experience

Missed diagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome.

A young woman with nerve damage has received £103,000 compensation with help from the CNCI team. Our client suffers from limited mobility in her lower body and a loss of feeling in her hips and lower back area. This was caused by Cauda Equina Syndrome, which health professionals missed.

In early 2002 our client started to experience pain in her bladder and had trouble going to the bathroom. A short time later her legs and hips started feeling painful. Her upper legs and hips began to lose feeling and she found it increasingly difficult to empty her bladder or bowels. Despite numerous medical examinations by her GP and York General Hospital health professionals were still unconvinced that her bladder problems were related to the pain and numbness she was suffering. During this time her symptoms began to get worse; she was now losing mobility in her hips and legs.

Out of desperation, our client went to a chiropractor in June 2002. The chiropractor raised the possibility of Cauda Equina syndrome. Our client returned to her GP and insisted she have another examination. The diagnosis of Cauda Equina was finally confirmed, almost six months after she first reported her symptoms to her GP.

Our client subsequently attended York District Hospital A&E department and saw a number of experts. Eventually she was told her nerves had been compressed by a herniated disc and her bladder had been permanently damaged.  An operation was performed in an attempt to decompress the nerves in her spine. Sadly this did not result in an improvement in her condition.

The impact of the nerve damage has been extremely debilitating. Our client has been forced to reduce her hours at work because the pain and discomfort is too much for her to cope with. Our client still has very little feeling in her legs, groin or hips. She has difficulty controlling her bowels and bladder and is required to self catheterise. She also has to wear incontinence pads and has the constant worry of being too far from a bathroom. She also suffers from sexual dysfunction due to lack of sensitivity.

During the course of the claim we obtained an expert’s opinion on the care that our client received. The expert's report advised that a competent GP should be aware that Cauda Equina is an emergency condition that if left untreated can cause permanent nerve damage.

Our client is now trying to come to terms with her condition and continue with her life. Prior to the onset of symptoms our client led an active life and enjoyed exercising. She is now having to come to terms with a more restricted lifestyle. It is our hope that the money we were able to secure will help provide financial stability and enable her to look to the future while she learns to live with her permanent – and life changing – condition.