​Central Cord Syndrome


Central cord syndrome is a disease in which your nerve fibres suffer some form of damage. These nerve fibres convey messages between your brain and body. It is caused when some part of the spinal cord suffers an injury such as swelling, bleeding, constricted blood supply or a cyst in the spinal cord (known as syringomyelia).

There can be several causes of central cord syndrome. The damage could occur due to trauma such as injury from an accident or fall. It could be due to an existing spinal disorder such as syringomyelia, or it could be congenital (present at birth). ​​

The most common symptoms of central cord syndrome include:

  • Muscle weakness 

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control 

  • Difficulty in walking

  • Difficulty controlling your movements, making everyday tasks such as lifting a fork or opening doors progressively more difficult

  • Numbness

  • Tingling sensations

  • Difficulty lifting your arms​

If your child is experiencing any of the above symptoms at birth, our highly qualified doctors and nurses will help to diagnose and treat it as early as possible. If your child's symptoms develop at a later stage, make an appointment with your specialist working with the Mind and Brain Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital.

Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​ ​

In order to diagnose central cord syndrome, your doctor will first conduct a thorough physical evaluation to check your posture, examine areas where you are experiencing pain, and check your reflexes and movements. He or she will also take a complete medical history, including previous medications, if any, and a history and severity of all your child's symptoms.

As far as diagnostic procedures are concerned, the most commonly used procedure is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI is a test that uses magnetic waves to take pictures of your child's brain and other organs. The MRI can be prenatal or after birth. In the latter case, to conduct an MRI, your child will be placed inside a special machine and the pictures can be saved and stored on a computer. Sometimes a special dye is injected into the bloodstream to enable doctors to see more clearly against the contrast.

Another commonly used method is a computerized tomography or CT scan. This is a quick, painless, non-invasive and accurate imaging procedure. Images produced during this test are stored on a computer so the doctor can see decide how to treat it, if necessary.

Treatment for central cord syndrome depends on the severity of the disease. There are both surgical and non-surgical treatment options available. Your doctor will most likely prescribe pain killers to manage pain in the back, neck and arms. You will also work with a physical therapist who will show you how to manage and control your movements to ensure that too much unnecessary pressure is not being exerted on the spine. Your therapist may also recommend exercises to avoid more pain in the future.

There are also a series of steroid injections or muscle relaxants that you may be prescribed if over the counter drugs are not effective. Other non-surgical treatment methods include restricting movement in the affected area.

Surgical treatment can be done to relieve compression of the fibres. Your doctor may recommend surgery as a secondary treatment method if the initial drugs and therapy is not effective. 

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

 The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

 The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments' costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage




The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.