Charcot spine as a late complication of traumatic spinal cord injury

Chris Standaert, Diana D. Cardenas, Paul Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Charcot spine, also known as neuropathic spinal arthropathy, is a late complication of traumatic spinal cord injury that can produce pain and further disability. We report five cases of Charcot spine occurring in patients with previous traumatic spinal cord injury that we have identified at our institution from 1985 to 1994. All patients had complete paraplegia with levels of neurologic injury ranging from T7 to T12. Common presenting symptoms included back pain, loss of spasticity, change in bladder function, and audible noises with motion. The diagnosis of Charcot spine was made from 6 to 31 years after original spinal cord injury. In four cases where a surgical fusion had been performed, the Charcot joint developed within two spinal segments below the caudal end of the fusion. Radiological studies, especially plain films and computed tomography, were helpful in making the diagnoses. Immobilization of the affected joint is an essential element of treatment. Surgical repair and stabilization were performed in four patients and has been recommended to the other patient. Early diagnosis and proper treatment is important in preventing the progression of this disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)221-225
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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