What is syringomyelia?


Know the basics

What is syringomyelia?

Syringomyelia is the development of a fluid-filled cyst (syrinx) within your spinal cord that pressing on nerves. A watery substance called cerebrospinal fluid flows around the spinal cord and brain. It protects and cushions those areas. It takes nutrients to them and removes wastes. This cerebrospinal fluid fills a cavity, or cyst(syrinx), in the spinal cord. The cavity grows and can destroy the center of the spinal cord. Sometimes it reaches the brain stem.

How common is syringomyelia?

Syringomyelia rate is about 8/100.000 people. It occurs more in men than women, and in average 25 – 40 years old. In some rare cases, people have relatives with syringomyelia can also have it.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of syringomyelia?

The disorder usually starts slowly, over several months. Symptoms may show up months or years after an injury. Depend on where the lump’s development is, patient may have different symptom. Coughing or straining may trigger symptoms of syringomyelia. The damage on the nerves will make they lose the ability to use their hands and feet, back pain, shoulder pain, muscle weakness, muscle atrophy and loss the muscle reflexes. The ability to feel pain or extremes of hot or cold, especially in the hands, is lost.

Other symptoms are pain and stiffness in the back, shoulders, neck, arms, and legs. Bowel and bladder problems may occur. Tingling can go from the trunk into the legs.

There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

Long-term syringomyelia will affect the nerves and cause the loss of operability. You should call your doctor if you have:

  • Muscle weakness, numbness, or loss of feeling (touch or temperature).
  • Headaches or pain or new symptoms after surgery.

Know the causes

What causes syringomyelia?

The cause is unclear, but blockage of normal cerebrospinal fluid movement can lead to the disorder. This abnormal flow can result in the abnormal cavity being filled with cerebrospinal fluid.

Conditions such as meningitis and bleeding (hemorrhage) can block the fluid.

Besides, a congenital abnormality called Chiari malformation and birth injuries are risks for syringomyelia. Congenital means present at birth. Cavities forming later in life may result from trauma or brain and spinal cord tumors. Rarely, syringomyelia is inherited.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for syringomyelia?

Certain factors may increase your risk of developing syringomyelia:

  • The disease is more common in men than in women.
  • Participate in activities that cause stress, and pressure on the neck
  • Perform the movements must dorsiflexion repeatedly or threw back the head for a long time.
  • Be waist lumbar spinal or epidural anesthesia.
  • Use foods contain too much salt, especially women in premenopausal period.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is syringomyelia diagnosed?

The doctor can make a diagnosis from the symptoms, medical history and complete physical examination. In some cases, syringomyelia may be discovered incidentally during a spine MRI or computerized tomography (CT) scan conducted for other reasons.

If your doctor suspects syringomyelia, you’ll likely undergo tests which may include:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).An MRI of your spine and spinal cord is the most reliable tool for diagnosing syringomyelia. An MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of your spine and spinal cord. If a syrinx has developed within your spinal cord, your doctor will be able to view it on the MRI. In some cases, a specialist will inject a dye into a blood vessel in your groin, which travels through blood vessels to your spine and reveals tumors or other abnormalities. An MRI may be repeated over time to monitor the progression of syringomyelia.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan.A CT scan uses a series of X-rays to create a detailed view of your spine and spinal cord. A CT scan may show if you have tumors or other spine conditions.

How is syringomyelia treated?

Treatment depends on the cause of the disorder and the person’s condition, age, and symptoms. Surgery is usual. Without surgery, syringomyelia often leads to progressive weakness of the arms and legs, loss of hand sensations, and chronic weakness and pain. Surgery often stops worsening of the disorder but doesn’t help existing neurologic problems get better. If syringomyelia occurs again after surgery, more operations may be needed. These may not be completely successful.

People without symptoms may not need any treatment. Older people, who could not tolerate surgery, or those without worsening of the condition may be closely monitored rather than treated surgically.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage syringomyelia?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with syringomyelia  :

  • remember that symptoms may not start for several months or years.
  • consider physical therapy to help symptoms.
  • keep your scheduled appointments with your healthcare provider and specialists. People usually see a neurosurgeon (specialist in diseases of the nervous system).

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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