Doctors say a North Texas woman was just away days from becoming paralyzed by a condition that could affect anyone.
A single sneeze led to a herniated disc and Jennifer Diosdado, of Cedar Hill, said what happened next was nothing short of a nightmare.
"They say childbirth is the worst pain ever. I want to say this was pretty bad!" said Diosdado about the pain she felt after herniating a disc. "It had me on my knees. I couldn't get dressed for work. I had to call in a lot."
The pain progressed to numbness from the waist down.
She lost bladder control.
She said she couldn't even move her legs to get out of bed. Out of desperation, she went to the emergency room at Methodist Dallas, where emergency medicine physician Dr. Brad Sellers said he knew immediately what was wrong.
"When she said the key words that her pelvic region was numb and her legs were weak, I almost knew it was cauda equina," said Dr. Sellers.
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Cauda equina syndrome is a disorder that affects just one in 70,000 people.
The phrase means horse tail in Latin and is used to describe the bundle of spinal nerves at the bottom of the spine, located right where one of Diosdado's disc had herniated.
"The spinal cord should normally flow right into this area and it goes into the legs, but you can see where the disc herniated and compressed the spine up against the bone," said Dr. Sellers as he points out the issue on an x-ray of Diosdado's back.
He said had she waited any longer to seek medical attention, she would have been paralyzed.
Surgeons performed an hours-long emergency surgery to remove the herniated disc and days later, Diosdado said she had feeling in her lower body again.
She is expected to make a full recovery and doctors believe she likely had some degenerative issues in her back that made it easier for the disc to slip out of place when she sneezed.
They say if you have chronic back pain that turns to numbness in the legs and loss of bladder control, you should immediately see a doctor.