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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
  • Headaches
  • 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.

Learn More

  • (American Syringomyelia & Chiari Alliance Project)
  • (American Academy of Neurology)
  • Lumbar MRI scan (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
  • Syringomyelia (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) Also in
  • (Merck & Co., Inc.) Also in

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

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