Syringomyelia: What are the causes?

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Syringomyelia: What are the causes?


What causes syringomyelia?

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Syringomyelia is the development of a fluid-filled cyst in your spinal cord. Over time, the cyst enlarges, damaging your spinal cord. Syringomyelia has several possible causes, including:

  • Abnormalities at the base of the brain, such as Chiari's malformation
  • Tumor of the spinal cord
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Inflammation around the spinal cord, such as following meningitis or spine surgery

Syringomyelia can cause a variety of signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Numbness and decreased sensitivity to pain, heat and cold in the arms, hands, shoulders and upper trunk
  • Weakness and wasting of the upper arm muscles
  • Weakness of the legs
  • Walking difficulty
  • Pain in the neck and arms

Treatment depends on the severity of signs and symptoms as well as the underlying cause and may include draining the cyst or surgery to remove the cyst.

Last Updated: 02/19/2007
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