Spine Conditions


Syringomyelia is a rare neurological condition in which a cyst, called a syrinx, forms within the spinal cord. The syrinx gradually expands, causing damage to the spinal cord and leading to a variety of symptoms. The condition is usually caused by a blockage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow in the spinal cord, which can be due to a number of underlying causes. Syringomyelia can affect people of any age, but it is most commonly diagnosed in young adults.


The symptoms of syringomyelia can vary greatly from person to person depending on the size and location of the syrinx. Some common symptoms include:

  • Pain and weakness in the shoulders, arms, and hands
  • Loss of sensation or numbness in the hands and fingers
  • Muscle weakness or atrophy
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills, such as writing or buttoning a shirt
  • Bowel or bladder dysfunction
  • Curvature of the spine (scoliosis)
  • Headaches and neck pain
  • Muscle stiffness and spasms



The most common cause of syringomyelia is a blockage of CSF flow in the spinal cord. This can occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • Chiari malformation: a structural defect in the brain that can cause the cerebellum to push down into the spinal canal, blocking CSF flow.
  • Trauma: spinal cord injuries or other types of trauma can cause scarring or inflammation that blocks CSF flow.
  • Tumors: spinal cord tumors can disrupt CSF flow and cause syringomyelia.
  • Infections: certain infections, such as meningitis, can cause inflammation and scarring that block CSF flow.
  • Congenital defects: rare congenital defects can also cause syringomyelia.

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