Symptoms of syringomyelia usually develop slowly over time. If your syringomyelia is caused by Chiari malformation — a condition in which brain tissue protrudes into your spinal canal — symptoms may begin during your teenage years or early adulthood. In some cases, a fall, minor trauma, coughing or straining may trigger symptoms of syringomyelia, although none of these causes syringomyelia.
The following early signs and symptoms of syringomyelia may affect the back of your neck, shoulders, arms and hands first:
- Muscle weakness and wasting (atrophy)
- Loss of reflexes
- Loss of sensitivity to pain and temperature
Other signs and symptoms of syringomyelia may include:
- Stiffness in your back, shoulders, arms and legs
- Pain in your neck, arms and back
- Bowel and bladder function problems
- Muscle weakness and spasms in your legs
- Facial pain or numbness
- Spinal curvature (scoliosis)
When to see a doctor
If you have any of the signs or symptoms associated with syringomyelia, see your doctor. Because many signs and symptoms of syringomyelia can be associated with other disorders, a thorough medical evaluation is important for accurate diagnosis.
If you've experienced a spinal injury, watch carefully for signs and symptoms of syringomyelia. Many months to several years may pass after an injury before syringomyelia develops. If you have syringomyelia symptoms, when you go for an evaluation make sure your doctor knows you had a spinal injury.
Feb. 19, 2011
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- What is syringomyelia? American Syringomyelia & Chiari Alliance Project. http://www.asap.org/syringomyelia. Accessed Dec. 12, 2010.
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