Syringomyelia

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Syringomyelia occurs when a syrinx, or a cyst filled with fluid, form inside the spinal cord. It is most commonly found in the cervical spine in the region of the neck. The syrinx would press on the spinal cord as it grows. This results in the transmission of nerve impulses being interfered within.

Among every one hundred thousand individuals, around eight people are affected by this condition. For unknown reasons, more men are at risk compared to women. Around thirty years is the average onset age.

Generally, there are three kinds of syringomyelia. The most common type is associated with congenital abnormalities of the brain. Syringomyelia that develops due to complications after a tumor, infection, or trauma of the spine is the second kind. Syringomyelia, whose cause is not known, is the third kind. This kind of syringomyelia is known as idiopathic syringomyelia.

If untreated syringomyelia may cause quadriplegia or paraplegia in the affected individual, surgery is among the options in the treatment of syringomyelia.

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Symptoms

Symptoms differ between different individuals. Which symptoms an individual may exhibit will depend on what caused the syringomyelia, the cyst’s location, and the severity of the condition. Symptoms may develop at a languid pace, and this could result in a delay in the diagnosis of the situation.

People suffering from syringomyelia may experience headaches. They may experience weakness and pain in their arms, shoulders, legs, or back. They may also experience extreme pain in their neck and shoulders. Sensations of their skin may be lessened. For example, they may not feel extreme cold or excessive heat. They may lose feeling in their hands, such as the sensation of pain. Their muscles may develop into atrophy, and it may start with their hands and then spread to their shoulders and arms. They may suffer from sexual dysfunction. And in more advanced stages, their bladder and bowel control might be reduced.

Types

A clear fluid called the cerebrospinal fluid surrounds the spinal cord and the brain. The cerebrospinal fluid cushions and nourishes the central nervous system.

There are three general types of syringomyelia.

The first type is syringomyelia, which is due to congenital disabilities of the brain.

The second type is syringomyelia, which is due to spinal cord injuries. These injuries include infections like HIV and meningitis, tumors, and trauma, as well as extreme compression of the spinal cord.

The third type is called idiopathic syringomyelia. These are syringomyelia with no known cause.

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Formation

The cerebrospinal fluid usually flows around the spinal cord and the brain. A syrinx or a cyst may form inside the spinal cord’s fragile tissue if the circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid is blocked.

At first, the syrinx might be small in size. As time passes, the syrinx becomes more substantial. It eventually presses on the nerves that surround the spinal cord. This may lead to damage to the nerves.

Syringomyelia advances typically at a slow pace, and it may take years to progress. However, symptoms may rapidly develop after coughing or straining.

Treatment

The treatment methodology will depend on the severity as well as the cause of the syringomyelia. If the syrinx is small in size, and the patient does not exhibit any symptoms, the doctor may not prescribe any treatment and will monitor the patient. Medication such as muscle relaxants and pain relievers may be prescribed to assist in easing specific symptoms. The doctor may perform a shunting procedure. In this procedure, the syrinx is inserted with a tube allowing the fluid to drain. Surgery may also be performed to treat whatever is causing the syringomyelia. For example, if a tumor causes the syringomyelia, then surgery is performed to remove the tumor.

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