Central cord syndrome (CCS) is a type of incomplete spinal cord injury. CCS is marked by damage to the nerve fibers that bring messages from the brain to the body. This condition affects how you can use your arms and hands, and in some cases, your legs. There may be a loss of sensation and motor control.
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CCS is caused by damage to the central part of the spinal cord. This damage may occur when the neck is hyperextended. This can be associated with: Syringomyelia (syrinx)—a cyst in the spinal cordLoss of blood supply to the areaBleeding in the spinal cordSwelling
Common causes of injury include: Trauma, such as car accident, sports injuries, and falls
Degenerative condition of spine—often found in older peoplePre-existing condition, such as being born with a narrow spine
CSS can also be due to: Structural problemsTumors within the spinal cord
Males over 50 are more likely to have this condition.
Other factors that increase your chance of CCS include:
Autoimmune disorder, such as
and neuromyelitis optica
Pre-existing condition, such as narrow spinal canal, spinal cord disease, and tethered cordParticipation in certain sports, such as wrestling and diving
Symptoms of CCS may include: Inability to lift arms and hands completely, or numbness and tinglingDifficulty with fine motor control, such as buttoning a shirtMuscle weakness in legs, difficulty walkingLoss of bladder control
If CCS is due to trauma, symptoms usually come quickly. Sometimes, however, symptoms may come more slowly.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A neurologic exam may also be done.
Images may be taken of your spinal cord. These can be done with: MRI scanCT scanMyelogramX-ray
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Rehab can take a long time for some people. If you are young and have more muscle function, you have a better chance of recovering.
Treatment options include the following:
In most cases, surgery is not needed. Often treatment involves: Restricting neck movementGiving steroidsDoing physical and occupational therapy
Surgery is needed if there is a large compression of the spinal cord fibers. Surgery may also be done after a period of recovery. For example, if you still have cord compression after a recovery period.
To help reduce your chance of a spinal cord injury: Do not dive into water if you do not know how deep it is.Always wear a seatbelt.Do not drink and drive. Do not ride with someone who has been drinking.Remove obstacles in your house, like throw rugs, that could cause falls.Use safe methods and proper equipment when playing sports.Secure firearms.
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Last reviewed November 2015 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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