North Shore dad warns people to watch out for red flags of rare spinal condition

A former police officer with a rare spinal condition is urging people to be aware of the ‘red flags’ of a bad back and get early treatment to avoid permanent disability.

Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 12:30 pm
Steven Smith, from North Shore, who is a Cauda Equina Peer Support Champion for the North West

Steven Smith, 52, from North Shore, has lived with Cauda Equina – a rare spinal condition which can lead to severe complications and disability – for 10 years.

He has undergone 10 operations and now cannot walk without crutches.

The dad-of-three, who worked for Greater Manchester Police, said: “I used to be a fit and healthy police officer but had persistent bad back issues which led to this condition.

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“I am now unable to walk and have many other permanent problems because of this.

“It affects your life massively.

“I was medically retired because of my back problems.

“You can take medication to control the pain but it doesn’t go away.”

Tomorrow marks the Cauda Equina Champions Charity’s awareness day

Steven, who is a Cauda Equina Peer Support Champion for the North West, added: “October 1 is our charity awareness day and we would like to make as many people know of this

condition as possible.

“We want to make people aware how easy a bad back can turn to a permanent disability.

“Any trauma to the spine can lead to this.

“It can occur from such a simple thing as a slipped disc.

“There are red flags to be aware of and if these are not recognised in time, it can lead to major spinal injury.

“If people show any of the red flags, they need to seek medical attention.”

Red flags to look out for include loss of feeling between the legs, bowel and bladder disturbance, back pain, sciatica, leg weakness and sexual problems.

A Facebook group – Cauda Equina Syndrome Support Group – has been set up to offer support to people with the condition.

Steven added: “The idea was that we could meet up but with the coronavirus situation we are having Zoom meetings to offer support.

“We are available for people to contact us to be there for them.”

The Cauda Equina Champions Charity says without prompt treatment, many patients are left to come to terms with permanent life changing disabilities.

For more information visit www.ihavecaudaequina.com or call 03335 777 113.