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Syringomyelia is a condition that causes syrinx, or fluid-filled cysts to develop inside the spinal cord. Cysts form when the cerebrospinal fluid moves into the central canal of the spinal cord. Syrinxes are most commonly found in the neck (cervical spine), but can develop anywhere along the spinal cord. Smaller cysts may go undetected and cause no symptoms. However, large cysts may cause compression and damage to the spinal cord, requiring treatment. If left untreated, symptoms may worsen and syringomyelia may result in permanent damage to the spinal cord.


Symptoms vary depending on the quantity, size and placement of the syrinx. If a cyst is large or if there are many in one place, symptoms tend to be more severe because more pressure is being placed on the spinal cord.

Symptoms of syringomyelia include:

  • Pain in the neck, arms, and back
  • Scoliosis
  • Muscle weakness
  • Changes in bladder and bowel movements
  • Inability to sense temperatures in the arms, hands and shoulders
  • Numbness and tingling


Syringomyelia is caused by Chiari I malformation or trauma. Chiari I malformation is a birth defect that causes some of the brain tissue to come through the spinal canal. This brain tissue may block the natural flow of the cerebrospinal fluid, resulting in cysts. Symptoms of syringomyelia caused by Chiari I malformation usually develop somewhere between ages 25 and 40. Trauma to the spinal cord may also cause syrinx to form.

It is more likely for syrinx to form when the trauma is caused by: 

  • Meningitis
  • A spinal cord tumor
  • A tethered spinal cord
  • A spinal cord injury.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, call Brain2Spine Institute today (727) 351-6902.

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