Back pain is usually not a medical emergency, but when combined with a loss of bladder control it indicates a serious problem. These symptoms point to a condition that can result in permanent disability without prompt medical treatment.
Cauda Equina Syndrome
A herniated disc rarely can cause a serious disorder called cauda equina syndrome. The ruptured disk presses on the bundle of nerve roots at the end of the spinal cord, which provides sensory and motor function to the legs, bladder and bowel.
Cauda Equina Syndrome Symptoms
Along with back pain and loss of bladder control, cauda equina syndrome may include symptoms of hip, leg or feet weakness or numbness. These symptoms can cause problems with walking.
Cauda equina syndrome can lead to paralysis or permanent loss of sensation in places below the lower spine.
A tumor located in or near the spine also may cause back pain as well as changes in bowel or bladder habits, including loss of bladder control.
Anyone who experiences back pain along with bladder or bowel incontinence should seek immediate medical attention to prevent permanent damage.