Syringomyelia is a rare disorder that causes a cyst to form in your spinal cord. This cyst, called a syrinx, gets bigger and longer over time, destroying part of the spinal cord. Damage to the spinal cord from the syrinx can cause symptoms such as

  • Pain and weakness in the back, shoulders, arms or legs
  • Headaches
  • Inability to feel hot or cold

Symptoms vary according to the size and location of the syrinx. They often begin in early adulthood.

Syringomyelia usually results from a skull abnormality called a Chiari I malformation. A tumor, meningitis or physical trauma can also cause it. Surgery is the main treatment. Some people also need to have the syrinx drained. Medicines can help ease pain. In some cases, there are no symptoms, so you may not need treatment.

Symptoms of Syringomyelia

The following features are indicative of Syringomyelia:
  • pain and weakness in the back, shoulders, arms or legs
  • headaches
  • inability to feel hot or cold
  • muscle weakness and wasting
  • loss of reflexes
  • loss of sensitivity to pain and temperature
  • stiffness in the back, shoulders, arms and legs
  • bowel function problems
  • bladder function problems
  • spinal curvature
It is possible that Syringomyelia shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Syringomyelia

The following are the most common causes of Syringomyelia:
  • chiari malformation
  • spinal cord tumors
  • spinal cord injuries
  • inflammation around the spinal cord

Prevention of Syringomyelia

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Syringomyelia. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • preventing a syrinx formation in trauma-related syringomyelia

Occurrence of Syringomyelia

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Syringomyelia cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Not common between 50K - 500K cases

Common Age Group

Syringomyelia most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 20-50 years

Common Gender

Syringomyelia can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Syringomyelia

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Syringomyelia:
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): To produce the detailed images of spine and spinal cord
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan: To create a detailed view of the spine and spinal cord

Doctor for Diagnosis of Syringomyelia

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Syringomyelia:
  • Neurologist
  • Neurosurgeon

Complications of Syringomyelia if untreated

Yes, Syringomyelia causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Syringomyelia is left untreated:
  • scoliosis
  • chronic pain
  • motor difficulties

Procedures for Treatment of Syringomyelia

The following procedures are used to treat Syringomyelia:
  • Surgery: Enlarging the opening at the base of skull and expanding the covering of the brain
  • Draining the syrinx: Drainage of the syrinx

Self-care for Syringomyelia

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Syringomyelia:
  • Avoid some activities: Avoid any activity that involves heavy lifting, straining or putting excessive force on your spine
  • Regular physical therapy: To create an exercise program that can help in reducing the symptoms

Patient Support for Treatment of Syringomyelia

The following actions may help Syringomyelia patients:
  • Having someone to talk: Gives encouragement and comfort to a patient
  • Online support group: Join support groups where you can share experiences

Time for Treatment of Syringomyelia

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Syringomyelia to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Syringomyelia.

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