Can a Misdiagnosis Lead to Cauda Equina Syndrome?

A correct and prompt diagnosis should occur when a spinal injury occurs. Failing to do so can have permanent consequences. The more time between the injury and treatment, the more likely damage will be long-lasting.

Failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis of an injury may lead to the development of cauda equina syndrome (CES). This can result in costly medical treatment for the permanent injuries you have suffered. Our legal team at Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC understands that not every encounter with medical practitioners in Portland ends with proper treatment. Call for your free consultation now, and let our Portland misdiagnosis lawyer do the work to secure compensation for you.

Treatment for Cauda Equina Syndrome

Misdiagnosing a spinal injury, infection, or disease can lead to the development of cauda equina syndrome (CES). For patients to recover and suffer as few long-term symptoms as possible, immediate treatment has to occur. This injury often requires prompt spinal surgery to prevent permanent damage.

Patients will benefit most from surgery within 48 hours of the initial symptoms to minimize sensory issues and motor dysfunctions. Prompt medical treatment can also decrease the potential for dysfunction of the urinary tract and bowel system. When damage to the cauda equina is misdiagnosed, this delays treatment and leads to the development of CES.

Misdiagnosing Cauda Equina Syndrome

Some of the earliest symptoms of CES are often mistaken by physicians as other illnesses. It is okay and often necessary to be persistent in asking for a more in-depth review of the symptoms you are experiencing to rule out CES.


One of the most common misdiagnoses of CES is sciatica. This nerve starts in the lower back and runs through the hips and down both legs. Damage to the sciatic nerve can cause burning, tingling, and numbness which are symptoms associated with CED.

It is estimated that at least 40% of adults will experience sciatica in their lifetime. This common diagnosis is often the first step in diagnosing the cause of back injuries.

Urinary Tract Infection

CES causes changes in the urinary tract, so it is often misdiagnosed as a urinary tract infection (UTI). A physician should rule out UTIs by performing both urine and blood tests. Early diagnosis saves valuable time and prevents a prolonged diagnosis, which can have an adverse effect on your treatment plan.


Fibromyalgia is a disorder causing widespread pain in the body, urinary tract issues, and bowel syndromes. These systems are also related to SEC. Fibromyalgia’s effects may not start in the back, and the painful sensations are often noted as a constant dull pain. CES pain has often been described by sufferers as the worst back pain of their life.


This neurological disorder is characterized by inflammation in the spinal cord. Infection or injury may be the cause, but the inflammatory response can damage and destroy the myelin which protects the nerve cells. Symptoms may include back pain, numbness and weakness in the legs, and dysfunctions of the bowels and bladder, which mirror the symptoms of CES.

Generalized Back Pain

In the United States, it is estimated that 39% of adults experience back pain. With back pain being a predominant health issue and the rates of chronic back pain increasing, physicians easily mistake CES for generalized back pain. Treatment for back pain often requires physical therapy, which can lead to more injury and pain.

Portland Assistance for Misdiagnosis of Cauda Equina Syndrome

Misdiagnosing CES can be overwhelming when the pain and symptoms worsen, and permanent damage is likely the result. It costs nothing to speak with a Portland medical malpractice attorney, and you will not pay anything until we secure compensation for you. Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC are the professionals you can rely upon in your fight to secure fair compensation.