Cauda Equina - Result Not Cause
Bernie, age 80, promised in December he would dance at his daughter's upcoming wedding in
Fixing Leg Numbness, Back Pain, Flank Pain, Knee Pain, Nerve Pain, Three Unhealthy Surgeries, Part I.
Part II of Bernie's story looked behind the scenes of how we fixed the source of the pain, step-by-step.
The promised dance is at right.
The point of the two posts was that the key is to fix the source of pain and injury, not just have surgery, take medications, and do some exercises. The posts also showed things to do to fix the causes so that readers could do it too.
A reader wrote an opinion in the comments of Part II, that Bernie's signs and symptoms were of Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES), and felt cauda equina was important for readers to know about.
The problem is that cauda equina is not the cause of the collection of back and leg pain and numbness problems, but the result. The cauda equina is a group of nerve roots of your lower spine that go down toward your feet. The bundle of stringy nerves looks like the tail (cauda) of a horse (equina). If something hurts or presses on the area, pain and numbness can result. It is just saying something wrong has resulted in that location. The key is finding and stopping the cause of what is hurting or pressing on the area, not taking medicines or having treatments.
It is like saying someone has stomach pain, and prescribing pain medicines and support groups. The pain could be worms, a pregnancy, a lack of enough stomach acid to digest food. You need to know the cause to do the right treatment.
For example, if a herniated disc is compressing the cauda equina, you need to stop pushing your disc out of place, described in Disc Pain - Not a Mystery, Easy to Fix and use daily simple good body mechanics instead of the bad bending that gradually push discs outward - The Cause of Disc and Back Pain. Then the disc and nerves can heal and the pain will stop without drugs or back surgery.
The reader asked me to review a web site. The web site they recommended lists treatments of drugs such as narcotics and antidepressants, and epidural injections. It mentions exercise to maintaining muscle strength in leg areas that have weakness from nerves that are compressed. This is like trying to catch blood loss in a bucket instead of stopping the blood loss at the source. The web site says sufferers with foot drop can use a brace. Instead of using a brace, which can cause more atrophy, it is better to stop the cause of the foot drop, where possible.
Fitness Fixer reader Ivy from New Zealand had foot drop from nerve compression. She stopped the cause, detailed in Inspirational Ivy II - Beating Foot Drop and Sciatica, and Getting Healthier. By stopping the cause of the nerve compression, Ivy did not need the brace or cane. It is not healthy to allow nerve compression to continue. Muscles and nerves become more damaged over time. A brace or cane does not restore function. They can further cause bad gait and body mechanics.
Bernie had many injuries from the surgeries he had undergone for the purpose of relieving back pain. In addition, the back surgery deliberately resulted in some reduced movement of the spine. Many back surgeries do this on the premise that reducing movement will reduce pain. The reduced movement meant reduced function and mobility, resulting in more pain.
The cauda equina web site says, "We live with CES every day." The approach of The Fitness Fixer is not to live with an injury or take unhealthful drugs, but to find the cause and stop the cause so that you do not have to live with pain and drugs.
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