Cauda equina neuritis

Veterinary advice should be sought before applying any treatment or vaccine.

Cauda Equina Neuritis

Polyneuritis Equi

Cauda equina neuritis, also known as polyneuritis equi, is a rarely recognized noninfectious, chronic relapsing, peripheral neurodegenerative disorder in horses. Cauda equina is latin for 'horse's tail', since it resembles a horse's tail. The disease was initially described in horses in 1897 in Germany. Since than, it has been reported in horses throughout Europe and the United States. It affects the horse's sacral and coccygeal nerves (a bundle of spinal nerves and spinal nerve roots, which are located in the spinal cord), leading to paralysis of the tail, rectum, and bladder. Cauda equina neuritis is found in a variety of horse breeds and ponies with a wide age range. Recent research suggests that cauda equina neuritis may be associated with infection with Sarcocystis neurona, which is the same parasite that causes Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM). However, the traditional theory for the cause of cauda equina neuritis is that it is immune mediated.

Clinical signs
The most common clinical signs of cauda equina neuritis in horses include hyperesthesia (tail rubbing and hypersensitivity to touch), behavioral changes, prolapsed penis, fecal retention, cystitis, and urine scalding of the limbs. Mild pelvic limb weakness, ataxia, and muscle atrophy in the hind end region may be found.


Progressive tail paralysis
Inability to constrict the anus
Muscle atrophy
Head tilt
Urinary incontinence
Loss of tongue tone
Hindlimb weakness
Stiff gait


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Laboratory tests
  • Radiography



Levamisole HCl treatment
Anti-inflammatory therapy
Removing feces from the rectum and evacuating the bladder
Systemic antibioticsif there is cystitis caused by bladder distension
Supportive treatmentDiligent nursing care


Poor, the disease gradually progresses regardless of treatment.

Scientific Research

General Overviews

Risk Factors

  • Trauma
  • Nerve inflammation
  • Vertebral osteomyelitis
  • Sorghum/sudan grass toxicity
  • Epidural neoplasia
  • Myeloencephalitis
  • Rabies
  • Caudal meningitis
  • Verminous myelitis