Syringomyelia (sih-ring-go-my-E-lee-uh) is the development of a fluid-filled cyst (syrinx) within your spinal cord. Over time, the cyst may enlarge, damaging your spinal cord and causing pain, weakness and stiffness, among other symptoms.
Syringomyelia has several possible causes, though the majority of cases are associated with a condition in which brain tissue protrudes into your spinal canal (Chiari malformation).
Other causes of syringomyelia include spinal cord tumors, spinal cord injuries and damage caused by inflammation around your spinal cord.
If syringomyelia isn't causing any problems, monitoring the condition may be all that's necessary. But if you're bothered by symptoms, you may need surgery.
March 25, 2014
- 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.