The symptoms of a degenerative spine can be frustrating and have an impact on your quality of life, but there is rarely a need for emergency treatment. Usually, someone diagnosed with a degenerative spine condition such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis will initially visit his or her doctor because of moderate neck pain, back pain or radiating symptoms. However, there are a handful of issues that can go beyond general discomfort and may indicate the presence of a serious medical condition known as cauda equina syndrome. This article will explore the differences between the most common symptoms of a degenerative spine and the ones that you should seek immediate medical attention for.
What to look out for
Most doctors will tell their patients that treatment for a degenerative spine condition is elective. It’s up to a patient to determine the degree to which symptoms are affecting his or her life to decide if they’re willing and ready to follow a comprehensive treatment plan. A plan typically includes treatments that can easily be performed at home, like hot/cold compresses and the use of over-the-counter medication. If elective spine surgery starts to become an option, it’s still up to the patient to determine if the potential risks and recovery period associated with surgery is outweighed by the symptoms experienced.
However there are several signs and symptoms of a degenerative spine that can indicate a patient is experiencing cauda equina syndrome, a condition that can be a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment. This condition arises when a bundle of nerves at the base of the spinal column, known as the cauda equina, becomes irritated. This can lead to paralysis and a variety of other very serious health concerns.
Here are symptoms of a degenerative spine condition that indicate you need to see a doctor immediately:
- Paralysis in the lower body
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Extreme pain in the lower extremities
To learn more
The difference between the symptoms of a relatively normal degenerative spine condition and cauda equine syndrome are significant. It’s ultimately up to you to listen to your body and seek medical treatment if you know that something is wrong.
If you are experiencing non-emergency symptoms and have exhausted conservative treatments, reach out to USA Spine Care to learn more about the benefits of our elective minimally invasive spine surgery. Our board-certified surgeons+ perform these procedures on an outpatient basis, leading to many advantages for our patients, including less risk of complication compared to traditional open neck or back procedures.
We are pleased to provide a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.