Syringomyelia

While the Scoliosis SOS Clinic specialises in the study and treatment of curvatures of the spine (primarily scoliosis and hyperkyphosis), we also possess a wealth of knowledge relating to many health problems that are closely linked to these spinal conditions. One such condition is syringomyelia, a chronic illness that causes a fluid-filled cavity or cyst to form within the spinal cord.

In this post, we will discuss syringomyelia in greater detail, looking at the symptoms and exploring its connection with scoliosis.

What is syringomyelia?

Syringomyelia occurs when a syrinx (cyst) forms within the spinal cord, expanding over time and disrupting the surrounding tissue. In the majority of cases, the condition is linked to a brain abnormality called a Chiari malformation. In other cases, syringomyelia can also be caused by meningitis, tumours, and physical trauma; it can also be idiopathic (having no underlying cause, like most cases of scoliosis itself).

The condition usually takes one of three forms:

  • Congenital - In these cases, the syringomyelia is linked to an abnormality of the craniovertebral junction (e.g. a Chiari malformation).

  • Secondary - Refers to cases with no obvious cause, or those that occur due to specific known causes which have damaged the spinal cord.

  • Post-traumatic - This is used to categorise cases which result from trauma to the spinal cord.

What are the symptoms of syringomyelia?

While symptoms and their severity can vary greatly from patient to patient, some common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the back/neck/shoulders, as well as some pain or tingling in the arms and hands.
  • Muscle weakness and wasting, particularly in the arms/hands/shoulders.
  • Numbness/loss of sensation in the fingers/arms/upper chest.
  • Pain and stiffness in the legs.
  • Uncoordinated movements and involuntary muscle contractions.
  • Abnormal sideways curvature of the spine (scoliosis).

How is syringomyelia linked to scoliosis?

As mentioned above, scoliosis most often presents itself without an underlying cause. However, many cases of scoliosis arise as a result of syringomyelia - this is especially common in younger patients (syringomyelia sufferers under the age of 16 are far more likely to have scoliosis than those who develop symptoms later in life). In terms of treatment, it is considered important to treat the syringomyelia before addressing the patient's scoliosis, as this allows improvement of the syrinx to be properly assessed.

Here at Scoliosis SOS, our treatment approach is carefully considered in order to ensure that all aspects of the individual's condition are addressed. This means that our treatment courses can be specifically tailored to the needs and constraints of the patient in order to achieve the best results.

Take a look at this video case study to find out how our treatment programme helped Grace, a 15-year-old syringomyelia patient from Essex:

If you are a syringomyelia sufferer, or a former syringomyelia patient who has received treatment but is still struggling with scoliosis, please get in touch with Scoliosis SOS today. Or for any other questions you may have about anything scoliosis related, Call us on 0207 488 4428 or fill in our contact form to request an initial consultation.

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