Instructs Lawyers To Investigate Care After Developing Rare Spinal Condition
A Colchester woman has spoken out on how her “whole life has changed” after being diagnosed with a rare spinal condition.
Rebecca Parker started experiencing back pain in September 2020. She visited her GP who prescribed pain medication. Rebecca subsequently arranged to have an MRI scan at Colchester Hospital. A spinal surgeon suggested decompression surgery.
Woman complained of "unbearable" back pain
During Easter weekend this year, Rebecca, 38, said her pain had become “unbearable.” She said she screamed to her husband, Jon, 40, that she couldn’t feel her legs. He called for an ambulance and Rebecca was rushed to hospital.
By the time she arrived, Rebecca said she had back pain, pins and needles in her legs, and had difficulty walking. She also complained of a tingling sensation and couldn’t pass urine. She was discharged home later with no treatment or follow up, she said.
Two days later, Rebecca became unable to walk, having to crawl or use furniture to mobilise. She called 111 and was taken by ambulance to hospital.
She was diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome – a condition that occurs when the nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord are compressed and damaged. She subsequently underwent decompression surgery.
Medical negligence lawyers instructed
Following her diagnosis, Rebecca instructed medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care under the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust which runs Ipswich Hospital, and to help her access the specialist treatment she now requires.
Irwin Mitchell is part of a legal panel established by the Cauda Equina Syndrome Association (CESA) with the aim of improving access to advice and support for those affected by the condition.
With the charity’s awareness day approaching on 1 October, Rebecca is now joining with her legal team in raising awareness of the symptoms of the condition and the effects it can have.
Expert Opinion“The past year has been incredibly difficult for Rebecca, and following her diagnosis earlier this year she still struggles with the life-changing effects of cauda equina syndrome.
We’re now investigating the care Rebecca received and are determined to provide her with the answers she deserves as to whether she should have been diagnosed and treated sooner.
Cauda equina syndrome is a rare yet serious condition that remains widely unknown. The awareness day is a great way of increasing knowledge on how to spot the signs of it. Early diagnosis and treatment is key to making the best recovery possible, so it’s vital that people are aware of what to look out for.”
Gurpreet Lalli - Associate Solicitor
Cauda equina syndrome: Rebecca's story
Five months on from her diagnosis, Rebecca still suffers from issues with passing urine, and also has problems with her bowel.
Since surgery, with the support of her physiotherapist, Rebecca has progressed from using a wheelchair and walking frame to a walking stick in recent weeks.
She has three children – Meghan, 21, Callum, 19, and Freya, 16.
She said: “My whole life has changed in the past year and I still struggle every day to come to terms with what I’ve been through.
“It’s particularly difficult to cope with not being able to manage my daily tasks or maintain my home without support.
“I try not to think about the future as I really don’t know what it will be like for me now, but I’m so grateful to have the support of my family. I wouldn’t have got through this without them.
“While I can’t change what’s happened to me, I hope that by sharing my story I can raise awareness of what to look out for when it comes to cauda equina syndrome. It’s a condition I’d never heard of before I was diagnosed, and I imagine a lot of other people are the same.”
According to the CESA, more than 1,000 cases of cauda equina syndrome are recorded in UK spinal centres every year. The charity estimates there are three cases for each officially recorded, suggesting thousands are living with the condition who may be entitled to help. Its awareness day on 1 October is being held to raise awareness of the symptoms of cauda equina syndrome and the support available.
Signs and symptoms of condition
‘Red flags’ include lower back pain, sciatica and leg weakness as well as bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction. Anyone with symptoms should seek medical attention, particularly if pain is accompanied by tingling or numbness around the bottom and started after an accident.
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