It's unclear exactly how and why syringomyelia happens. When it develops, cerebrospinal fluid — the fluid that surrounds, cushions and protects your brain and spinal cord — collects within the spinal cord itself, forming a fluid-filled cyst (syrinx).
Several conditions and diseases can lead to syringomyelia, including:
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- Chiari malformation, a condition in which brain tissue protrudes into your spinal canal
- Meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord
- Spinal cord tumor, which may interfere with the normal circulation of cerebrospinal fluid
- Conditions present at birth, such as a tethered spinal cord, a condition caused when tissue attached to your spinal cord limits its movement
- Spinal cord injury, which may cause symptoms months or even years after the initial injury
- Syringomyelia fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/syringomyelia/detail_syringomyelia.htm. Accessed Sept. 17, 2013.
- Papadakis MA, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2013. 52nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=13162&searchStr=syringomyelia. Accessed Sept. 17, 2013.
- Eisen A. Disorders affecting the spinal cord. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 17, 2013.
- Sekula RF, et al. The pathogenesis of Chiari I malformation and syringomyelia. Neurological Research. 2011;33:232.
- NINDS meningitis and encephalitis information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/encephalitis_meningitis/encephalitis_meningitis.htm.Accessed Sept. 18, 2013.
- Brett-Fleegler M. Evaluation of neck stiffness in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 18, 2013.
- Abrams GM, et al. Chronic complications of spinal cord injury. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 18, 2013.
- Muthusamy P, et al. Syringomyelia. First Consult. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 17, 2013.
- Noseworthy JH. Neurological Therapeutics: Principles and Practice. London, U.K.: Martin Dunitz; 2003:2520.
- Support & resources: Find support. American Syringomyelia and Chiari Alliance Project. http://asap.org/index.php/resources/find-support/. Accessed Sept. 19, 2013.
- Support groups. American Chronic Pain Association. http://www.theacpa.org/Support-Groups. Accessed Sept. 19, 2013.
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