Syringomyelia

Also known as Hydromyelia. Which ever you prefer… it’s no good. Sometimes it is a speckle in your spine. Sometimes the size of an eraser. Maybe larger. Mine is is a long sausage running from the T1 (top of the thoracic spin) down to my lumbar spine.

Below are two links and a little information about Syringomyelia (sear-IN-go-my-lee-ya)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002373/

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/syringomyelia/detail_syringomyelia.htm

The fluid buildup seen in syringomyelia may be a result of spinal cord trauma, tumors of the spinal cord, or birth defects (specifically, “chiari malformation,” in which part of the brain pushes down onto the spinal cord at the base of the skull).

The fluid-filled cavity usually begins in the neck area. It expands slowly, putting pressure on the spinal cord and slowly causing damage.

Symptoms

There may be no symptoms, or symptoms may include:

  • Gradual loss of muscle mass (wasting, atrophy)
  • Headache
  • Muscle function loss, loss of ability to use arms or legs
  • Numbnessor decreased sensation
    • Decreased sense of pain or temperature
    • Lessened ability to sense that the skin is being touched
    • Neck, shoulders, upper arms, trunk — in a cape-like pattern
    • Slowly, but progressively, gets worse
  • Pain down the arms, neck, or into the upper back
  • Weakness (decreased muscle strength, independent of exercise) in the arms or legs

Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease:

Signs and tests

A neurological examination may show loss of sensation or movement caused by compression of the spinal cord.

An MRI of the spine confirms syringomyelia and determines the exact location and extent. Often, an MRI of the head will be done to look for associated conditions including hydrocephalus (water on the brain).

Rarely, an spinal CT with myelogram may be done.

Treatment

The goals of treatment are to stop the spinal cord damage from getting worse and to maximize functioning. Surgery to relieve pressure in the spinal cord may be appropriate. Physical therapy may be needed to maximize muscular function.

It may be necessary to drain the fluid build up. See: Ventriculoperitoneal shunting

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