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Is bladder incontinence a sign of cauda equina?

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Posted on Sat, 28 May 2016
Question: I been having some random tingling/numbing sensations over my body for a couple of weeks now. I went to the doctor and ran an x-ray (no broken bones or fractures) and a reflex test (all good). The numbness/tingling went away for a week and came back after that (I thought it was an MS scare!). Now I have a tingling sensation in my saddle area (but when I pinched it, I can still feel pain). Could it be Cauda Equina Syndrome? I also have bowel/bladder incontinence, a little erection in my penis but I have no struggle getting out of a chair (I did an ankle and knee reflex tonight and the reflex is still there). Should I wait to get an MRI (I am getting one this Wednesday)? Also, 4 weeks ago when I bend backwards, I felt this pain (probably pulled a muscle in my abdomen). I know X-ray does not give a good diagnosis of a slipped disc or a pinched nerve. I am probably thinking that this is stress/anxiety (making all these symptoms go into my head).
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Answered by Dr. Olsi Taka (32 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Read below.

Detailed Answer:
I read your question carefully and I understand your concern.

However reading at that description I do not think it to be a cauda equina syndrome. Usually cauda equina has a more severe presentation, there is low back pain radiating in the the lower limbs, there is weakness of the lower limbs. Also the urinary disturbances usually are in the form of retension, not incontinence, reflexes are affected as well.

So I think you can wait for the Wednesday's MRI. Anxiety is a probable contributing factor in my opinion as well (considering also that widespread tingling episodes a couple of weeks ago), at least partially, but considering the bowel and bladder issues the MRI is still advised, X-ray is fine to exclude urgent issues like fractures and dislocations, the MRI will give a more complete picture and definitively exclude other causes of nerve compression.

I remain at your disposal for further questions.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. Olsi Taka (38 hours later)
I think it is just anxiety or just a pinched nerve. We'll let the MRI confirm anything.
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Answered by Dr. Olsi Taka (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
Read below.

Detailed Answer:
Hello again.

Yes the MRI will certainly give you piece of mind. The possibilities are the ones you mentioned. I believe anxiety to be more probable because of the preceding widespread tingling and also because pinched nerve at your age is unlikely, but as I said it is good you are doing the MRI.

Hopefully it won't reveal anything worrying. Let me know if you have any news/questions.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Dr. Olsi Taka

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Practicing since :2004

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Is bladder incontinence a sign of cauda equina?

Brief Answer: Read below. Detailed Answer: I read your question carefully and I understand your concern. However reading at that description I do not think it to be a cauda equina syndrome. Usually cauda equina has a more severe presentation, there is low back pain radiating in the the lower limbs, there is weakness of the lower limbs. Also the urinary disturbances usually are in the form of retension, not incontinence, reflexes are affected as well. So I think you can wait for the Wednesday's MRI. Anxiety is a probable contributing factor in my opinion as well (considering also that widespread tingling episodes a couple of weeks ago), at least partially, but considering the bowel and bladder issues the MRI is still advised, X-ray is fine to exclude urgent issues like fractures and dislocations, the MRI will give a more complete picture and definitively exclude other causes of nerve compression. I remain at your disposal for further questions.