University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Central Cord Syndrome After Fall From Inversion Table

Isaac Michels; Lang Jacobson, MD

WMJ. 2024;123(1):51-55.

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Introduction: Central cord syndrome, the most common incomplete traumatic spinal cord injury, often results in functional impairment with variable recovery.

Case Presentation: Central cord syndrome developed in a 64-year-old man during routine home use of an inversion table.

Discussion: The incidence of central cord syndrome, which occurs most frequently after a fall, is increasing among older persons. Age-related changes in the cervical spine may predispose the spinal cord to compression and injury during a fall. Evidence for lumbar traction as treatment of low back pain is limited.

Conclusions: This unusual case of spinal cord injury during inversion table use highlights the relationship between anatomical changes in the cervical spine and the mechanism of injury typical in central cord syndrome. The resulting increased risk of central cord syndrome for older adults should be discussed with patients in the context of activities that could lead to falls or cervical spine extension.

Author Affiliations: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin (Michels); Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic Health System – Northwest Wisconsin Region, Eau Claire, Wis (Jacobson).
Corresponding Author: Lang Jacobson, MD, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic Health System – Northwest Wisconsin Region, 1400 Bellinger St, Eau Claire, WI 54702; email; ORCID ID 0009-0009-2307-273X
Funding/Support: None declared.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
Acknowledgments: The patient provided written informed consent for deidentified material to be used for educational purposes, including publication in professional journals. Randall J. Fritz, DVM, Mayo Clinic, substantively edited the manuscript. The Scientific Publications staff at Mayo Clinic provided proofreading, administrative, and clerical support.
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