Unexplained Arm and Leg Symptoms

This post is about Central Cord Syndrome; please see the article from my last post for reference.

There is one diagnosis that is often not discovered until it is too late. It is called central cord syndrome or central cord compression. Your spinal cord is being compressed within a part of the neck, so you experience not only neck/arm symptoms but other symptoms in the lower body as well.

Neck Pain
Usual neck problems can cause neck pain and/or refer pain to the shoulder or down the arm. If this is your only symptom, you likely do not have anything compressing your spinal cord in the neck. You may have a neck diagnosis that can be treated with usual medical treatments such as medicine, Physical Therapy, injections, surgery, or other alternatives.

Back Pain
Similarly, low back problems can produce back pain and symptoms radiating into the buttock(s), hip(s) and/or leg(s). If this is your only symptom, you likely do not have Central Cord Syndrome. I highly recommend you request a prescription for Physical Therapy from your doctor in order to treat your back/leg symptoms.

Neck/arm AND Back/leg Symptoms
If you have neck/arm symptoms AND leg symptoms at the same time, you may need further medical attention quickly! Some leg symptoms are: difficulty walking, progressive loss of balance/falls, leg pain, and numbness/tingling in the leg. Other symptoms include loss of bowel/bladder control/function and/or loss of sensation in the pelvic region.

Examples:
1. You have a neck injury that appears to have resolved. But now you have progressive weakness in one or both of your legs.
2. You have knee pain that started without a knee injury. Actually it started around the time that you were in a car accident and hurt your neck. It keeps getting worse despite treatment for knee pain.
3. You have what feels like carpal tunnel syndrome in your hand(s). It has been going on for several years but is not improving with treatment. Also, your neck hurts and you have numbness in your leg(s) during the same period of time.
4. You have been treated for neck pain and it is mildly improving, but you recently notice that you cannot control your bladder like usual.
5. You have a neck injury that radiates pain and tingling down your arm. You did not notice at first, but you feel the same symptoms in your leg(s), which began at the same time.

Neck/Back Pain
If you have both neck/arm symptoms and back/leg symptoms that began at different times, then you may have 2 different problems that need to be diagnosed/treated separately. In this case, be sure to inform your doctor about all your symptoms so he/she can rule out a more serious problem such as Central Cord Syndrome.

Published by lizbnavarr@gmail.com

I am a Physical Therapist and Ergonomics Consultant, based out of Columbia, SC. My passion is to write about and speak about pain/injury prevention. I started Pain Talks as a consulting business in 2018.

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