Syringomyelia is a rare disorder that causes a cyst to form in your spinal cord. This cyst, called a syrinx, gets bigger and longer over time, destroying part of the spinal cord. Damage to the spinal cord from the syrinx can cause symptoms such as
- Pain and weakness in the back, shoulders, arms or legs
- Inability to feel hot or cold
Symptoms vary according to the size and location of the syrinx. They often begin in early adulthood.
Syringomyelia usually results from a skull abnormality called a Chiari I malformation. A tumor, meningitis or physical trauma can also cause it. Surgery is the main treatment. Some people also need to have the syrinx drained. Medicines can help ease pain. In some cases, there are no symptoms, so you may not need treatment.
- Syringomyelia (American Syringomyelia & Chiari Alliance Project)
- Syringomyelia (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) Available in Spanish
- Syringomyelia (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) - Short Summary
- Syringomyelia (SM) (C&S Patient Education Foundation) - PDF
- Exercise Concepts for Individuals with Syringomyelia (American Syringomyelia & Chiari Alliance Project)
- Syrinx (Merck & Co., Inc.)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Syringomyelia (National Institutes of Health)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
Find an Expert
- Find a Neurologist (American Academy of Neurology)
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Available in Spanish