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My Sister Won't See Her GP And I Fear Cauda Equina

View profile for Thomas Rees
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"My sister has had months of sciatica but the painkillers prescribed by the GP do not seem to be working. She is now experiencing bladder problems but is putting off going to the GP in person because of the pandemic. I am worried it could be Cauda Equina, what can I do?"

Anyone with lower back pain accompanied by bladder retention or incontinence should immediately go to their GP or hospital for a physical examination. GPs are used to operating within the parameters of the pandemic and they have sound safety protocols in place. Some GPs offer a phone or a video consultation, but they may want to see your sister in person while maintaining extra hygiene standards. Without wanting to alarm you, I have seen a number of cases involving a condition called Cauda Equina Syndrome, which affects the group of nerves at the base of the spinal cord. Cauda Equina Syndrome sees compression to these nerves, often caused by a herniated disc in the lumbar region, so lower back pain is a frequent symptom, as is urine retention or incontinence, lower limb weakness, and/or numbness and numbness to the genital area. Early and accurate diagnosis is vital in order to prevent further and long-lasting damage. The GP might send your sister for a scan if only to rule this out.

Unfortunately, we are dealing with an increasing number of legal cases where a delay in diagnosis – or sometimes a misdiagnosis - has led to more serious injury to a patient than otherwise would have been the case. Clearly, the Covid situation has led to routine or follow-up appointments being cancelled or delayed, so this is a growing issue. Anyone who feels a delay or a misdiagnosis has caused them further injury or illness should seek tailored legal advice. It may be that compensation could be claimed to help meet any needs arising from the illness. In most cases, the time limit for doing this is three years from the date the person becomes aware they have suffered injury as a result of medical treatment.

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This question is based upon a hypothetical situation.