Syringomyelia is a disorder that features with formation of a cyst within the spinal cord. This cyst is also referred to as syrinx this may increase in size and eventually leads to massive destruction of spinal cord leaving the patient paralyzed. In the beginning of the the disease patient experiences weakness in extremities and may feel painful sensations. Syringomyelia progresses gradually and the symptoms get worse in time. In the United States approximately 40.000 people are affected by this horrible disease. It mainly starts in early adulthood.
The cyst present in spinal cord is formed of cerebrospinal fluid. The cause that leads to cyst formation is obstruction in cerebrospinal circulation of any kind. The location of the cyst is different and the problem is than a cyst tends to grow instead of withdrawing on its own.
The symptoms rather vary according to the location and the size of the cyst. Still there are mutual characteristics of symptoms and signs of the disease in majority of patients.
Rather early symptom of the disease presents with weakness of muscles. Since muscles are not strong enough and one may not use them up to full extent muscle atrophy may occur. What follows is loss of reflexes. One faces even the loss of painful sensations or even sensations connected to change of surrounding temperature. Additional symptoms and signs includes rigidity of muscles in the back and in extremities. Muscles may not show signs of spasms. All this finally leads to uncoordinated movements of the body. In further stages of the disease problems with bladder and bowel may occur. Certain number of patients complains about headaches. Skin rash may be present in limited number of patients.
The condition can be diagnosed on time in cases of spinal trauma. After each and every case of spine injury one should be monitored and examined for certain period of time as this sort of injury may lead to development of syringomyelia.
The best way to set the diagnosis is to perform magnetic resonance imaging of the spine. MRI is perfect for detection of syrinx and even additional spinal conditions such as tumors. Myelogram is another option for detection of the cyst. Electromyography is conducted to evaluate the damage of the muscles.
The treatment is surgical. The surgery will help in reduction of pressure within the spinal cord. Still the precise procedure depends on the very location of the cyst. The operation must be performed on time as only in that case normal bodily functions can be preserved.