How to Say It: SEN-tral CORD SIN-droh-m
Central cord syndrome (CCS) is an incomplete injury of the part of the spinal cord that is in the neck. This results in weakness in the arms and hands. Sometimes the legs are also affected.
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CCS happens after an injury that hyperextends the neck. This damages nerve fibers that bring message from the brain to the body. Some causes are:
This problem is more common in men. It is also more common in older adults with spinal health problems, such as osteoporosis.
Problems may be:
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. A neurological exam may also be done.
Images may be taken of the spine. These can be done with:
The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Choices are:
Some people may need surgery if there is a large compression of the spinal cord fibers.
CCS is often caused by injury or accident. These are hard to prevent.
Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Canadian Spinal Research Organization
Spinal Cord Research Centre
Ameer MA, Stobart Gallagher MA, et al. Central Cord Syndrome. [Updated 2020 Oct 3]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441932.
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 January 26, 2021.
Eckert MJ, Martin MJ. Trauma: Spinal Cord Injury. Surg Clin North Am. 2017 Oct;97(5):1031-1045.
Management of chronic spinal cord injury. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/management-of-chronic-spinal-cord-injury. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Spinal cord injury—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/spinal-cord-injury-emergency-management. Accessed January 26, 2021.
Traumatic brain injury and concussion. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
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Accessed January 26, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 1/26/2021