Cauda Equina Syndrome Dictionary

Acute pain – A type of pain that typically lasts less than 6 months that is directly related to a stimulus or illness.

Altered sensation – occurs when despite being able to feel pressure on the skin, not being able to have a normal sensation response such as hot/cold, sharp or dull. If numbness develops then it will be shown during a pin prick test.

Anal irrigation system – Anal irrigation systems which uses water to irrigate the bowels.

Anal Sphincter Test – Testing anal tone and feeling.

Analgesia – Another word for pain killer.

Arachnoiditis – is an inflammatory condition of the ‘arachnoid’, one of the membranes known as meninges that surround and protect the nerves of the central nervous system.

Catheter Tug Test – Sometimes a small pull on a catheter is done to analyse feeling in that area.

Cauda Equina – The group of nerves that branch off from the spinal cord through the vertebral canal.

Cauda Equina Syndrome – Compression of the nerve roots that emerge from the base of the spinal cord in the lumbar spine causing impairment of function of bladder, bowels, sexual function, sensation and mobility.

Chronic pain – Chronic pain is pain that is ongoing and usually lasts longer than six months. This type of pain can continue even after the illness or injury has healed or gone away.

Degenerative Disc Disease – is a condition that happens when one or more of the discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column deteriorates or breaks down, leading to pain. There may be weakness, numbness, and pain that radiates down the leg.

Discectomy – surgical removal of the whole or a part of an intervertebral disc.

Facet joints – are the joints in your spine that make your back flexible and enable you to bend and twist.

Facet Joint Injections – are used to alleviate symptoms of Facet syndrome. The procedure is an outpatient surgery, so that the patient can go home on the same day.

Facet Syndrome – is a syndrome in which the facet joints (synovial diarthroses, from C2 to S1) cause painful symptoms. In conjunction with degenerative disc disease, a distinct but functionally related condition, facet arthropathy is believed to be one of the most common causes of lower back pain.

General Anaesthetic – A general anaesthetic is where medications are used to make you go to sleep, so that you are not conscious during a procedure.

Hyper-mobility – A condition that means that your joints and tissues are unusually flexible and stretchy.

Ileostomy – An Ileostomy is where the small bowel is diverted through an opening in the abdomen. The opening is known as a stoma.

Intermittent Self Catheterisation (ISC). – This is where one uses a catheter to urinate and then disposes of it, in contrast to an Indwelling Catheter that remains in the body.

Laminectomy – a surgical operation to remove the back of one or more vertebrae, usually to give access to the spinal cord or to relieve pressure on nerves.

Local anaesthetic – A numbing agent administered while a patient is awake.

Microdiscectomy – also sometimes called micro decompression or microdiscectomy, is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed on patients with a herniated lumbar disc. During this surgery, a surgeon will remove portions of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on the spinal nerve column.

MRI scan – Magnetic Resonance Imaging, a technique used to take images of the body. Cauda Equina Syndrome MRI scans are used to determine a diagnosis whether the spinal cord is compressed or not. Occasionally dye will be injected to have a better contrast with nerves.

Nerve root compression – A nerve root is the initial part of a nerve leaving the central nervous system. When one has nerve root compression it means that nerve root is being impinged.

Nerve conduction tests – Nerve conduction test measures the speed at which impulses travel along a nerve. These tests help doctors to assess how well your nerves and muscles are functioning.

Neurological damage – The damage that has occurred to the nerves.

Neuro-physio – A neuro-physio uses repetitive actions and exercises to kick-start message pathways along the nerves.

Personal assistant – Another term for carer.

Pin Prick Test – Using a small sharp object a doctor will test for feeling and reaction.

Prolapsed disc – otherwise known as a ‘herniated’ or ‘slipped’ disc.

Radio-logical report – X rays, MRI, CT scans are reported on by a radiologist.

Reflexes – Reflexes are actions that are performed without conscious thought as a result of a stimulus.

Saddle anaesthesia – loss of sensation in the area where you would sit in a saddle. A dense area of numbness.

Saddle area – The area you would sit in a saddle on a horse which includes, anus, vulva area, between your legs, penis and testicles.

Spinal Fusion – is a surgical procedure used to correct problems with the small bones in the spine(vertebrae). It is essentially a “welding” process. The basic idea is to fuse together two or more vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone.

Spinal stenosis – An abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal or neural foramen. It can cause pain, numbness and weakness. It can also cause loss of bladder and bowel control and sexual dysfunction in severe cases.

Supra pubic catheter – A supra pubic catheter is an indwelling catheter that is inserted into the bladder through the stomach. You can have a flip flow valve which is essentially a tap that can be used to urinate.

TENS machine -Trans-cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a method of pain relief involving the use of a mild electrical current.

Urethra – the canal that leads to the bladder. It’s where urine is released.

Urine Retention – is an inability to completely empty the bladder.

UTI – Urinary Tract Infection, these can be common in people doing ISC or with an indwelling catheter. Drinking plenty of water can help avoid a UTI.

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