What Is Syrinx of the Spine?


Quick Answer

The medical term for syrinx of the spine is syringomyelia, states Mayo Clinic. Syrinx refers to a fluid-filled cyst within the spinal cord. The cyst may grow in size and damage the spinal cord causing issues such as pain, stiffness and weakness.

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Full Answer

Syringomyelia is caused by several conditions such as spinal cord injuries, spinal cord tumors and inflammation around the spinal cord, but it is mostly associated with a condition in which brain tissue extends into the spinal cord, explains Mayo Clinic. Early symptoms of syringomyelia may cause muscle weakness, loss of sensitivity to temperature and pain, and a loss of reflexes in the neck, shoulders, arms and hands. Later symptoms include facial pain and numbness; scoliosis; neck, arms and back pain; leg muscle spasms; weakness in the legs; and bladder and bowel dysfunction. Any of these symptoms require medical attention to determine the underlying cause.

Syringomyelia with no symptoms may only be treated with monitoring, according to Mayo Clinic. Syrinx of the spine sometimes resolves on its own without any further treatment, or surgery may treat syringomyelia if symptoms restrict daily living or become adverse. Although surgery is not always effective, it treats syringomyelia by enlarging the opening at the base of the skull and expanding the brain covering to reduce pressure on the spinal cord. Surgery is also used to drain the syrinx or remove any obstructions that thwart normal cerebrospinal fluid.

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