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Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Complications


Syringomyelia develops when fluid-filled cysts form within the spinal cord. As the cyst grows, it damages the spinal cord, causing pain, weakness, stiffness, and other symptoms. Also known as water myelia, syringohydromyelia, or Morvan’s disease.

Understanding and knowing how to manage state is very important. So, in this blog, we discuss syringomyelia, its symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

What is Syringomyelia?

It is a rare long-term disorder caused by fluid-filled cysts in the spinal cord. Cysts are called cavities and are made up of cerebrospinal fluid. As the cyst gradually enlarges, it presses outward from the center and damages part of the spinal cord. It causes pain, stiffness, and weakness in different parts of the body, such as the back, shoulders, arms, and legs.

People with this disorder may not show signs or symptoms. The disease commonly affects the upper part of the spinal cord, especially the neck and chest.

Syringomyelia has several causes, primarily related to Chiari malformation, the protrusion of brain tissue into the spinal canal. spinal cord injuryspinal cord tumors, and spinal cord injuries are other causes of this condition.

It is essential to note that severe syringomyelia can cause permanent problems. However, mild conditions can be managed with continued monitoring and medical intervention based on the cause of the illness.Recurrence is also possible, so patients undergoing surgery require regular follow-up. is.

Who is at risk of developing Syringomyelia?

Syringomyelia can develop in young children or the elderly. But usually he develops between the ages of 20 and 50. It’s also important to note that men are more likely to develop than women.

What Causes Syringomyelia?

The cause of syringomyelia is unknown. It occurs due to the collection of cerebrospinal fluid within the spinal cord, forming a fluid-filled cyst. Cysts are known as cavities.

Syringomyelia has two main reasons for fluid rerouting or blockage.

They are congenital and acquired causes.

congenital syringomyelia

Also known as syringomyelia. During pregnancy, the lower part of the baby’s brain pushes down toward the spinal cord, causing congenital syringomyelia. The brain defect is called Chiari I malformation.

It blocks the normal flow of fluid between the spine and brain, forming a cyst. However, not everyone with Chiari I malformation develops congenital syringomyelia. Symptoms begin to appear between the age of 25 and the age of 40. Here are some other reasons for syringomyelia congenita:

  • meningocele: It happens before the baby is born. Also known as split spina bifida. Myelomeningocele is a condition in which the spine and spinal canal do not close before birth. It is a type of neural tube defect (NTD).
  • tethered cord syndrome: A rare neurological condition in which the spinal cord becomes attached or attached to the surrounding spinal cord tissue. Tethered cord syndrome is often associated with other neurological disorders such as spina bifida. scoliosis.

Acquired Syringomyelia

This is also known as primary spinal cord or non-communicating syringomyelia. In acquired syringomyelia, a cyst forms in the damaged spinal cord. It usually happens when:

  • Arachnoid: The arachnoid membrane surrounds and protects the spinal cord. Inflammation of this membrane results in syringomyelia. inflammation, sarcoidosis, Transverse myelitisWhen multiple sclerosis.
  • Meningitis: Infection of the spinal cord and protective layers of the brain is called meningitis. The protective layer is known as the meninges.
  • Spinal cord injury: Syringomyelia due to spinal cord injury is post-traumatic syringomyelia. It can occur months or years after the initial trauma. It occurs because scar tissue blocks the flow of CSF.
  • Spinal cord tumor: Tumors such as hemangioblastoma and ependymoma block CSF flow and cause syringomyelia.

Acquired syringomyelia without a cause, known as idiopathic syringomyelia, can occur.

What are the symptoms of Syringomyelia?

Syringomyelia symptoms develop gradually over time, depending on size and location. If the syringomyelia is due to Chiari’s malformation, the symptoms appear between the ages of 25 and 40. In certain instances, coughing and straining cause symptoms of the condition, but neither cause the development of cavitation. It can also occur suddenly due to an accident or fall.

Symptoms that can affect different parts of the body such as the back, shoulders, arms and legs are:

  • muscle weakness
  • muscle atrophy
  • loss of reflexes
  • Decreased or lost sensitivity to pain or temperature
  • headache
  • neck stiffnessback, arms, legs
  • neck, back and shoulder pain
  • curvature of the spine called scoliosis
  • Altered or loss of bowel and bladder control
  • profuse sweating
  • Numbness, tingling, burning, or stinging sensations
  • paralysisin extreme cases
  • sexual problems
  • Irregular blood pressure level
  • involuntary and uncoordinated muscle movements

Patients with facial nerve damage can develop eye and facial problems, which can lead to Horner’s syndrome. , the sweating of the affected area is reduced.

When to Seek Medical Assistance?

Recognizing signs and symptoms of medical conditions, visit a doctor Important for efficient state management. However, people with spinal cord injuries should be aware of symptoms that can develop many years later.

When a person is diagnosed with syringomyelia, it is essential to always visit the medical team to monitor the cyst.


How is Syringomyelia Diagnosed?

The health care provider will write down the patient’s medical and family history. The physical examination then focuses on the patient’s neurological abilities.

To confirm the diagnosis, your neurologist may prescribe one or more of the following tests:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan: is one of the most reliable forms of diagnosing a condition. This examination reveals cavities and their location, size, and severity.
  • dynamic MRI: Examination clearly shows the flow of cerebrospinal fluid around the spinal cord and cyst. Your doctor will use a contrast agent during the exam. A contrast agent is injected into the patient’s vein to improve the MRI image.
  • Myelogram by CT scan: If a patient cannot have an MRI, a CT scan is the next best option.

Rarely, doctors mistakenly discover syringomyelia during tests ordered for other medical reasons.

What are the treatment options for syringomyelia?

Treatment of syringomyelia is based on symptoms and severity of the condition. Below are some of the treatment options recommended by doctors.

  1. monitoring: Patients with mild syringomyelia may not require treatment. However, your doctor may need to regularly monitor the progression of the cyst and its symptoms. Patients should avoid heavy lifting and other straining activities. Doctors may prescribe pain relievers and refer patients to physical therapy.
  2. Surgery: If the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with daily life, surgery may be an effective option. The main goals of surgery are to relieve pain and restore her CSF flow to the brain and spinal cord. Based on the cause and severity of the condition, doctors may perform one or more of the following surgeries:
  3. Chiari Malformation Treatment: If Chiari malformation is the cause of syringomyelia, surgery removes a small section of the spinal cord behind the skull. Surgery can help reduce pressure in the brain, effectively restore cerebrospinal fluid flow, and improve or eliminate symptoms.
  4. Cavity drainage: Your doctor will insert a shunt to drain the cavity. One is inserted into the cavity, and her other is inserted into another part of the body, such as the abdomen.
  5. Obstacle removal: A tumor or bony protrusion restricts the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and requires immediate surgical removal. Surgery may restore blood flow and drain fluid from the cavity.
  6. Anomaly fixes: Abnormalities such as a constrained spinal cord require immediate surgical correction to restore flow and drain the cavity.
    1. Before the patient considers surgical options, be aware that surgery may not restore normal CSF flow and that the cyst may recur despite best efforts to drain fluid. is important.
  7. follow-up care: After surgery, syringomyelia may occur again. Therefore, patients should see their doctor regularly and have regular check-ups to assess the outcome of the surgery. Over time, patients may require additional treatment. In severe cases, it can cause permanent spinal cord and nerve damage.
  8. clinical trials: Patients with syringomyelia can select and study a variety of clinical trials to detect, prevent, treat, and manage the condition.
  9. lifestyle and home therapy: Below are specific steps that may help reduce the effects of syringomyelia.
    1. Avoiding activities such as heavy lifting, straining, or stressing the spine that can make symptoms worse
    2. Consider physical therapy to help reduce muscle stiffness, weakness, pain, and fatigue
    3. Manage chronic pain with a variety of treatment options.Ask your doctor about a medical center that specializes in pain management
    4. Coping and Support: Living with syringomyelia and its complications is not easy. Having family and friends to talk to is invaluable. If not, joining a support group can help. Such groups are valuable sources of practical tips for syringomyelia patients.

What are the complications of Syringomyelia?

In a few people, the cysts grow in size and can cause severe and permanent damage to the spinal cord. It can lead to many complications such as:

  • chronic and severe pain
  • Onset of paralysis of the hands and arms
  • Stiff legs and uncoordinated movements
  • uncontrolled muscle contractions and spasms
  • Abnormal curvature of the spine
  • no feeling in shoulders or back

Patients may experience complications from surgery intended to treat syringomyelia. Therefore, it is important to discuss risks and their likelihood of occurrence. Complications of surgery include:

  • Cerebrospinal fluid leakage
  • infection
  • bleeding
  • additional spinal cord injury
  • recurrence of cavities


Trying and learning to live with Syringomyelia can be difficult. Understanding and knowing that a person is not alone is very important for their mental and physical health. Talk to your health care provider, learn about your illness, join support groups, and get regular checkups to help you better manage your symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is syringomyelia preventable?

Unfortunately, syringomyelia cannot be prevented. However, early diagnosis and treatment can help control the condition and minimize its deterioration.

Is syringomyelia common?

It is a rare condition that affects approximately 1 in 8 out of 10,000 people. He accounts for nearly 5% of paraplegic cases.

https://healthlibrary.askapollo.com/syringomyelia-symptoms-causes-treatment-complications/ Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Complications

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