Syringomyelia – Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

Syringomyelia is basically the formation of fluid-filled cavities (Syrinx or cyst) within the spine. It’s mainly a long-term condition where the CSF (cerebrospinal fluid, a clear watery fluid protecting the brain and spinal cord) flow gets hampered resulting in elongation and formation of such fluid-filled cavities.


There is primary and secondary syringomyelia.  Primary is also known as Congenial (a birth defect) or a Chiari malformation (Brain tissue extending through the hole at the bottom of the skull to the spinal column obstructing the flow of CSF).

Secondary Syringomyelia can be due to some trauma/injury, tumors of the spinal cord, or even due to damage of the cord after some inflammatory disorders in and around the spinal column.

Apart from this, there are cases when there’s no specific cause is found (also known as Idiopathic).


In the case of children, the most common symptom (and perhaps the only one) could just be the curvature of the spine (i.e. Scoliosis), for any further inquiries regarding this you should Ask A Doctor.

Among adults, symptoms can be in the form of – non-specific pain and headaches.

  • A gradual weakness of arms and legs
  • Loss of sensation esp. in the arms
  • Numbness/tingling sensation of arms/legs
  • Imbalance
  • Loss of Bowel-bladder control
  • Stiffness over neck/shoulder/back or arms and legs

Important to note, not all symptoms are present in all the patients and sometimes even symptoms out of these conventional ones may also be seen.


Familial screening and genetic studies are a must to identify the primary types of syringomyelia.

For secondary syringomyelia, diagnosis is basically done by a thorough clinical examination by the Neurologist/Spine surgeon followed by imaging studies like CT-scan and/ different types of MRI of the spine.

Treatment is based on the cause and can be from anywhere to simple monitoring to draining of those fluid-filled cavities or corrective spinal surgeries. For any further guidance, you should always Ask A Neurologist or a Spine surgeon.

At HealthCareMagic, we’ve dedicated 24×7 service of Neurologists and Spine surgeon specialists. Medical emergency of any form is always a time dependant matter, so in case of any further queries feel free to contact Ask A Doctor for any kind of Medical assistance.