Cauda Equina Syndrome Due to Vigorous Back Massage With Spinal Manipulation in a Patient With Pre-Existing Lumbar Disc Herniation: A Case Report and Literature Review

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Cauda equina syndrome (CES) resulting from acute lumbar disc herniation due to spinal massage is extremely rare. We present a case of CES caused by the acute worsening of a lumbar disc herniation after a vigorous back massage that included spinal manipulation. After vigorous back massage with spinal manipulation performed by a massage therapist, a 38-yr-old male patient experienced CES with severe numbness in both lower limbs, inability to walk due to weakness of bilateral lower limbs, and incontinence of urine and feces. The magnetic resonance imaging and computer tomography scan results showed that the L4–5 disc herniated down into the spinal canal, extensively compressing the ventral dural sac. The patient was successfully treated with an emergency operation including laminectomy, spinal canal decompression, discectomy, interbody fusion, and pedicle screw fixation. The muscle power in both lower limbs of the patient recovered rapidly to support standing only 1 wk later. Moreover, he regained continence of urine and feces. In conclusion, this case brings us novel knowledge that spinal massage or manipulation may worsen pre-existing disc herniation causing CES, and a timely emergency surgery is necessary and effective for treatment of CES-related symptoms.

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