Syringomyelia symptoms typically develop gradually and progressively over time. Many of these symptoms may be variable and vague at first, but they slowly start becoming noticeable as the time passes.
Before understanding the symptoms of a disease, it is absolutely necessary to fully understand what the disease actually is and what it entails. Read the following background information to fully understand the symptoms that follow:
Also known as Hydromyelia or more commonly as Syrinx, Syringomyelia is a condition characterised by accumulation of fluid inside the spinal cord. Spinal cord is a very delicate structure that is connected to the lower part of the brain, called the brainstem. A tough outer covering known as Dura surrounds the cord which rests within the spinal canal.
Typically, the spinal cord ends at either first or the second lumbar vertebra in adults (vertebra refers to the bony structure of spinal column). Surrounding the spinal cord, the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flows from the brain down the spinal canal and also back to the brain. Usually, no cerebrospinal fluid is found inside the structure of the spinal cord, rather it simply surrounds the cord. Numerous nerves originate from the spinal cord and are responsible for a number of activities such as sensation and movement of legs, arms and torso.
Syringomyelia is medically defined as an abnormal fluid cavity located inside the spinal cord. You may consider this cavity as something similar to a blister, which causes pressure from the inside of the cord. This pressure effectively disrupts the normal function of your spine's nerves, which travel back and forth from the brain.
Depending on the individual in question, the symptoms might occur suddenly or might start after a minor trauma, a fall, straining or coughing. However, none of these actually cause Syringomyelia.
If your problem is caused by Chiari 1 malformation, a condition characterised by brain tissue protruding into the spinal canal, you might start noticing symptoms in late teenage or early adulthood.
Pain is one of the most common Syringomyelia symptoms. You might experience pain the arm, hand or leg. A number of people also complain of a burning sensation in the back, neck or around the ribs. You may even experience a dull aching on one of side of the body (unilateral), which is more common among people diagnosed with Chiari 1 malformation .The pain can be present for months or even years without being diagnosed properly.
Weakness is another common symptom of Syrinx, which is generally progressive over time. You might experience weakness in arms, hands, legs or feet. It may be slow enough for you to not notice in the beginning but you may find yourself being clumsy with fine motor skills. Over the years, weakness in the lower extremities may trouble your walking, a condition known as ataxia.
Numbness or tingling, medically known as paresthesia, may be experienced in the back, chest or arm. You might also experience numbness in the feet or legs. If you leave it unchecked, it might result in an injury because of the lack of sensation caused by numbness.