Central Cord Syndrome Information Page

Central Cord Syndrome Information Page


What research is being done?

Our understanding of central cord syndrome has increased greatly in recent decades as a result of research funded conducted by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).  Much of this research focuses on finding better ways to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure neurological disorders such as central cord syndrome. 

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Spinal Cord Injuries

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What research is being done?

Our understanding of central cord syndrome has increased greatly in recent decades as a result of research funded conducted by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).  Much of this research focuses on finding better ways to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure neurological disorders such as central cord syndrome. 

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Spinal Cord Injuries

Our understanding of central cord syndrome has increased greatly in recent decades as a result of research funded conducted by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).  Much of this research focuses on finding better ways to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure neurological disorders such as central cord syndrome. 

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Spinal Cord Injuries

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Definition
Definition
Treatment
Treatment
Prognosis
Prognosis
Clinical Trials
Clinical Trials
Organizations
Organizations
Publications
Publications
Definition
Definition

Central cord syndrome is the most common form of incomplete spinal cord injury characterized by impairment in the arms and hands and to a lesser extent in the legs. The brain's ability to send and receive signals to and from parts of the body below the site of injury is reduced but not entirely blocked. This syndrome is associated with damage to the large nerve fibers that carry information directly from the cerebral cortex to the spinal cord.  These nerves are particularly important for hand and arm function. Symptoms may include paralysis or loss of fine control of movements in the arms and hands, with relatively less impairment of leg movements. Sensory loss below the site of the injury and loss of bladder control may also occur, as well as painful sensations such as tinging, burning, or dull ache.  The overall amount and type of functional loss is dependent upon the severity of nerve damage.  Central cord syndrome is usually the result of trauma that causes damage to the vertebrae in the neck or herniation of the vertebral discs.  It also may develop in persons over the age of 50 due to gradual weakening of the vertebrae and discs, which narrows the spinal column and may contribute to compression of the spinal cord when the neck is hyper-extended. 

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Definition

Central cord syndrome is the most common form of incomplete spinal cord injury characterized by impairment in the arms and hands and to a lesser extent in the legs. The brain's ability to send and receive signals to and from parts of the body below the site of injury is reduced but not entirely blocked. This syndrome is associated with damage to the large nerve fibers that carry information directly from the cerebral cortex to the spinal cord.  These nerves are particularly important for hand and arm function. Symptoms may include paralysis or loss of fine control of movements in the arms and hands, with relatively less impairment of leg movements. Sensory loss below the site of the injury and loss of bladder control may also occur, as well as painful sensations such as tinging, burning, or dull ache.  The overall amount and type of functional loss is dependent upon the severity of nerve damage.  Central cord syndrome is usually the result of trauma that causes damage to the vertebrae in the neck or herniation of the vertebral discs.  It also may develop in persons over the age of 50 due to gradual weakening of the vertebrae and discs, which narrows the spinal column and may contribute to compression of the spinal cord when the neck is hyper-extended. 

Treatment
Treatment

There is no cure for central cord syndrome although some people recover near-normal function. There is no standard course of treatment, although drug therapy, surgery, and rest are often part of the program.  Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to indicate the degree of spinal cord compression and vertebral instability.  Vertebral instability due to acute traumatic injury or cervical disc herniation is often treated by surgery to prevent further damage to the spinal cord.  Recent reports indicate that earlier surgery may improve chances for recovery.  Numerous recent studies suggest that surgery also can be beneficial in individuals with persistent compression of the spinal cord and ongoing neurological deterioration.

×
Treatment

There is no cure for central cord syndrome although some people recover near-normal function. There is no standard course of treatment, although drug therapy, surgery, and rest are often part of the program.  Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to indicate the degree of spinal cord compression and vertebral instability.  Vertebral instability due to acute traumatic injury or cervical disc herniation is often treated by surgery to prevent further damage to the spinal cord.  Recent reports indicate that earlier surgery may improve chances for recovery.  Numerous recent studies suggest that surgery also can be beneficial in individuals with persistent compression of the spinal cord and ongoing neurological deterioration.

Definition
Definition

Central cord syndrome is the most common form of incomplete spinal cord injury characterized by impairment in the arms and hands and to a lesser extent in the legs. The brain's ability to send and receive signals to and from parts of the body below the site of injury is reduced but not entirely blocked. This syndrome is associated with damage to the large nerve fibers that carry information directly from the cerebral cortex to the spinal cord.  These nerves are particularly important for hand and arm function. Symptoms may include paralysis or loss of fine control of movements in the arms and hands, with relatively less impairment of leg movements. Sensory loss below the site of the injury and loss of bladder control may also occur, as well as painful sensations such as tinging, burning, or dull ache.  The overall amount and type of functional loss is dependent upon the severity of nerve damage.  Central cord syndrome is usually the result of trauma that causes damage to the vertebrae in the neck or herniation of the vertebral discs.  It also may develop in persons over the age of 50 due to gradual weakening of the vertebrae and discs, which narrows the spinal column and may contribute to compression of the spinal cord when the neck is hyper-extended. 

Treatment
Treatment

There is no cure for central cord syndrome although some people recover near-normal function. There is no standard course of treatment, although drug therapy, surgery, and rest are often part of the program.  Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to indicate the degree of spinal cord compression and vertebral instability.  Vertebral instability due to acute traumatic injury or cervical disc herniation is often treated by surgery to prevent further damage to the spinal cord.  Recent reports indicate that earlier surgery may improve chances for recovery.  Numerous recent studies suggest that surgery also can be beneficial in individuals with persistent compression of the spinal cord and ongoing neurological deterioration.

Prognosis
Prognosis

The prognosis for central cord syndrome varies, but most people whose syndrome is caused by trauma have some recovery of neurological function. Evaluation of abnormal signals on MRI images can help predict he likelihood that neurological recovery may occur naturally.  Those who receive medical intervention soon after their injury often have good outcomes.  Many people with the disorder recover substantial function after their initial injury, and the ability to walk is recovered in most cases, although some impairment may remain.  Improvement occurs first in the legs, then the bladder, and may be seen in the arms.  Hand function recovers last, if at all.  Recovery is generally better in younger patients, compared to those over the age of 50.

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The prognosis for central cord syndrome varies, but most people whose syndrome is caused by trauma have some recovery of neurological function. Evaluation of abnormal signals on MRI images can help predict he likelihood that neurological recovery may occur naturally.  Those who receive medical intervention soon after their injury often have good outcomes.  Many people with the disorder recover substantial function after their initial injury, and the ability to walk is recovered in most cases, although some impairment may remain.  Improvement occurs first in the legs, then the bladder, and may be seen in the arms.  Hand function recovers last, if at all.  Recovery is generally better in younger patients, compared to those over the age of 50.

Prognosis
Prognosis

The prognosis for central cord syndrome varies, but most people whose syndrome is caused by trauma have some recovery of neurological function. Evaluation of abnormal signals on MRI images can help predict he likelihood that neurological recovery may occur naturally.  Those who receive medical intervention soon after their injury often have good outcomes.  Many people with the disorder recover substantial function after their initial injury, and the ability to walk is recovered in most cases, although some impairment may remain.  Improvement occurs first in the legs, then the bladder, and may be seen in the arms.  Hand function recovers last, if at all.  Recovery is generally better in younger patients, compared to those over the age of 50.

Definition

Central cord syndrome is the most common form of incomplete spinal cord injury characterized by impairment in the arms and hands and to a lesser extent in the legs. The brain's ability to send and receive signals to and from parts of the body below the site of injury is reduced but not entirely blocked. This syndrome is associated with damage to the large nerve fibers that carry information directly from the cerebral cortex to the spinal cord.  These nerves are particularly important for hand and arm function. Symptoms may include paralysis or loss of fine control of movements in the arms and hands, with relatively less impairment of leg movements. Sensory loss below the site of the injury and loss of bladder control may also occur, as well as painful sensations such as tinging, burning, or dull ache.  The overall amount and type of functional loss is dependent upon the severity of nerve damage.  Central cord syndrome is usually the result of trauma that causes damage to the vertebrae in the neck or herniation of the vertebral discs.  It also may develop in persons over the age of 50 due to gradual weakening of the vertebrae and discs, which narrows the spinal column and may contribute to compression of the spinal cord when the neck is hyper-extended. 

Treatment

There is no cure for central cord syndrome although some people recover near-normal function. There is no standard course of treatment, although drug therapy, surgery, and rest are often part of the program.  Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to indicate the degree of spinal cord compression and vertebral instability.  Vertebral instability due to acute traumatic injury or cervical disc herniation is often treated by surgery to prevent further damage to the spinal cord.  Recent reports indicate that earlier surgery may improve chances for recovery.  Numerous recent studies suggest that surgery also can be beneficial in individuals with persistent compression of the spinal cord and ongoing neurological deterioration.

Prognosis

The prognosis for central cord syndrome varies, but most people whose syndrome is caused by trauma have some recovery of neurological function. Evaluation of abnormal signals on MRI images can help predict he likelihood that neurological recovery may occur naturally.  Those who receive medical intervention soon after their injury often have good outcomes.  Many people with the disorder recover substantial function after their initial injury, and the ability to walk is recovered in most cases, although some impairment may remain.  Improvement occurs first in the legs, then the bladder, and may be seen in the arms.  Hand function recovers last, if at all.  Recovery is generally better in younger patients, compared to those over the age of 50.

What research is being done?

Our understanding of central cord syndrome has increased greatly in recent decades as a result of research funded conducted by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).  Much of this research focuses on finding better ways to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure neurological disorders such as central cord syndrome. 

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Spinal Cord Injuries

Patient Organizations
Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
636 Morris Turnpike
Suite 3A
Short Hills
NJ
Short Hills, NJ 07078
Tel: 973-379-2690; 800-225-0292
Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
P.O. Box 016960
R-48
Miami
FL
Miami, FL 33101-6960
Tel: 305-243-6001; 800-STANDUP (782-6387)
Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)
801 18th Street, NW
Washington
DC
Washington, DC 20006-3517
Tel: 202-USA-1300 (872-1300); 800-555-9140
United Spinal Association
120-34 Queens Boulevard, #320
Kew Gardens
NY
Kew Gardens, NY 11415
Tel: 718-803-3782; 800-962-9629
Publications

Spinal cord injury information sheet compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Patient Organizations