Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
Central Cord Syndrome
A central cord syndrome is normally associated with a fall and impact to the front of the head causing it to bend backwards. There normally is an immediate loss of motor control to the legs and arms that can return to normal within minutes to hours. The legs normally recover before the arms do. The only residual symptoms may be a burning of the back of the hands (burning hands syndrome) that many ER locations may misdiagnose as wrist sprains. A detailed history and thorough neurological examination will pick up the diagnosis.
This injury is considered a “bruising” of the cord. The reason the legs come back before the arms is the location of the tracts that carry information from the legs and arms. It just so happens that the leg tracts are on the outside of the cord and the arm tracts are on the inside. Since it is a central cord injury, the outside has less injury and returns faster than the inside.
This injury can give permanent residuals of arm or hand weakness and stiffness of gait. A hypersensitivity of the back of the hands can also be permanent.