Central Cord Syndrome
(CCS; Central Cervical Cord Syndrome; Central Cord Injury; Injury, Central Cord; Paralysis, Upper Extremity; Syndrome, Central Cord; Syndrome, Central Cervical Cord; Upper Extremity Paralysis; Acute Central Cord Syndrome)
Pronounced: SEN-tral CORD SIN-droh-m
by Mary Cresse
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.
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:
Common causes of injury include:
CSS can also be due to:
Risk Factors TOP
Males over 50 are more likely to have this condition. Other factors that increase your chance of CCS include:
Symptoms of CCS may include:
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:
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:
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:
Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Canadian Spinal Research Organization
Spinal Cord Research Centre
Cortez R, Levi AD. Acute spinal cord injury. Curr Treat Options Neurol. 2007;9(2):115-125.
Finnoff JT, Midlenberger D, Cassidy CD.. Central cord syndrome in a football player with congenital spinal stenosis. Am J Sports Med. 2004;32(2):516-521.
McKinley W, Santos K, Meade M, Brooke K.Incidence and outcomes of spinal cord injury clinical syndromes. J Spinal Cord Med. 2007;30(3):215-224.
NINDS central cord syndrome information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Central-Cord-Syndrome-Information-Page. Accessed November 8, 2017.
Older adult falls. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed November 8, 2017.
Rich V, McCaslin E. Central cord syndrome in a high school wrestler: a case report. J Athl Train. 2006;41(3):341-344.
Spinal cord injury—acute management. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated June 15, 2017. Accessed November 8, 2017.
Spinal cord injury—chronic management. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T566521 . Updated September 7, 2017. Accessed November 8, 2017.
Traumatic brain injury. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated July 6, 2017. Accessed November 8, 2017.
Visocchi M, Di Rocco F, Meglio M. Subacute clinical onset of post-traumatic myelopathy. Acta Neurochir (Wein). 2003;145(9): 799-804.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 12/20/2014
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.