Brown-Sequard Syndrome Symptoms

Brown-Sequard syndrome symptoms vary in severity, affecting each side of the body differently.

Ipsilateral side symptoms:

Contralateral side:

The effects of the lesion on the contralateral side are evident from one or two segments below the level of the injury. Symptoms include:

How are the symptoms treated?

Naturally, the treatment of Brown-Sequard Syndrome symptoms varies, depending on the cause of the damage to the spinal cord. If the injury is caused by a trauma, the damage may be permanent, and so the symptoms are also likely to be permanent. However, if the lesion is caused by a temporary problem, such as a cyst pressing on the spinal column, the removal of the cause may help the symptoms to improve.

Brown-Sequard Syndrome is caused by a lateral injury to the spinal cord, and named after physiologist Charles-Édouard Brown-Sequard, who first identified the condition in 1850. The spinal cord may be fully severed, or partially severed causing 'partial Brown-Sequard' or 'incomplete Brown-Sequard'.

What causes Brown-Sequard Syndrome?

There are a number of ways in which the spinal cord can be damaged causing Brown-Séquard Syndrome. These include:

What damage is caused?

In Brown-Sequard Syndrome the spinal cord suffers an injury or lesion. Three major groups of nerves cross at the spinal cord, so damage here affects many functions. Because each side of the cord contains different nerves, each side of the body is affected differently.

The injured side (ipsilateral)

The dorsal column-medial lemniscus tract carries the nerves related to recognising a light touch, discerning different areas of the body, sensing vibration and pressure and the ability to sense two objects touching the skin that are close to each other.

Damage to the corticospinal tract affects the motor control nerves.

The opposite side (contralateral)

The spinothelamic tract houses nerves that sense pain, temperature and crude touch.