Spine-Related Sudden Incontinence

Sudden Incontinence: An Emergency Situation Stemming from the Spine

Sudden Incontinence: An Emergency Situation Stemming from the Spine

A rare but serious condition that must be examined by a medical professional with urgency is when lower back pain is accompanied by loss of bladder or bowel control. These can be developing signs of a complete bundle nerve root block where important the nerve conduction is being lost and cannot signal adequately below the waist. This situation is due to a condition in or around the lower spine that is causing swelling, an infection or has received injury. Symptoms include lower back pain with notable leg, hip, or pelvic weakness or a nerve-like aggravation in the groin area “saddle region” followed by or accompanied by a newly developing loss of voluntary control of either bowel or urine release. The medical term for this condition is called cauda equina syndrome or CES. Cauda equina means “horses tail”, indicating the area that is generally affected by this syndrome; the lower back, hips, pelvis, and upper legs.

These combined symptoms are an indication that there could be a serious nerve block that must be addressed immediately. Not having this treated could mean permanent damage and symptoms that cannot be reversed.  If not resolved quickly, complications of this type of nerve damage can include ongoing weakness in the affected area, unrecoverable loss of urine or bowel control, and long-term sensory defects.

Any sudden loss or change in bowel or bladder control warrants a medical exam. If it is accompanied by other symptoms such as sensory changes, pain, or weakness describe these to your doctor so that, in the case of CES, diagnostic testing can be performed to help identify and intervene as soon as possible to help prevent cumulative long-term nerve damage.

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