• The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends

  • The online Community for people with spinal cord injury, their relatives and friends


16 170 03 Management von Komplikationen EN Seite 19

What is syringomyelia?

Syringomyelia is a slowly progressing process in which the grey matter of the spinal cord, especially in the cervical and thoracic areas of the medulla, becomes loose and a fluid-filled cavity forms. They are very rare and occur spontaneously (1–2 per 1,000,000 inhabitants) and following spinal cord injuries where they can occur months or even years after the injury.

They are generally triggered by a disturbance in the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid due to adhesions, causing a blockage of cerebrospinal fluid in the central canal of the spinal cord.

How is syringomyelia detected?

Initial symptoms are often pain radiating out above the level of paralysis, as well as headaches. Later on, the person experiences a gradual loss of muscle function above the level of paralysis; this process often takes years. Muscle twitching, vegetative symptoms, as well as swellings or redness and loss of sensitivity then come to the fore. Typical symptoms are loss of the ability to feel pain in the arms and hands, as well as weakness of the hand musculature.

Syringomyelia can be verified very simply by means of an MRI scan.

What can be done?

Syringomyelia cannot be healed. Pain therapy and physiotherapy can alleviate the symptoms. Drugs are also used, whereby conventional painkillers are often of little or no effect, and neuroleptics and antidepressants have to be combined.

Attempts are made to alleviate the cause (adhesion) through surgery. In serious cases, the fluid-filled cavity is drained by inserting a tube in the pleura or peritoneum and easing the pressure. The symptoms are generally only partially alleviated, but such draining can often prevent further progress.

As the development of the symptoms is frequently gradual, the disease often progresses for half a year before the people affected even notice it. Over a period of several years, however, the new symptoms can become so significant that surgery is advisable in most cases if there is clear evidence of progress based on a multi-year comparison (annual checks).

The loss of only one centimetre of spinal cord, especially in the cervical part of the medulla, can result in a major loss of independence, e. g. of hand functions or of the elbow extensors or flexors.

16 170 03 Management von Komplikationen EN Seite 19

Comments (0)

There are no comments on this topic yet.
Be the first to comment!
Most Recent Answers
4476 odyssita
Explaining what life with a chronic disability is like
Hi cAro, all the best for your research! I am very curious to hear about the results once they are being published. Thank you for researching this...
6 odyssita 2018-05-02
4283 Wheelie
Good news for all who would like to try out the Scewo by themselves: according the Scewo constructors, the feedback on their invention was so...
5 Johannes 2018-03-12
Ask the Expert
Most Recent Answers
3 Dr._Hans_old 2015-07-20
3 Dr._Hans_old 2015-05-07

Most Recent Blog Posts
kitwan 2020-01-27 In Society
The disabled affection
In love with the disabled or the disability?
Sorli 2020-01-13 In News
Robot caregivers
Will robots take care of us in the future?
kitwan 2019-12-20 In News
The Community excursion at Swiss Handicap 2019
Exploring the national fair for people with disabilities
Most Read
Anatomy and physiology of respiration
Breathing is the most normal thing in the world for us. We hardly think about it, even though we breathe in and out about 20,000 times per day. We breathe more when we are active and exerting ourselves, and we breathe less when we are...
What are contractures and how do they develop? Contractures are shortenings of muscles, tendons or ligaments that have a limiting effect on the movements of the joints. The normal ability to move a joint is lost. Contractures are frequently...
In some cases, support is needed for cleaning the nasopharyngeal space and keeping it free from secretion. For this purpose, suctioning is performed through the nose and, if necessary, the mouth. This is particularly necessary if the nose cannot be...

About the Community
Most Recent Topics
2020-01-20 In Latest
America first: accessible scooter rental service
Sharing is caring. Recently, Oakland has become the first city in the US to offer a e-scooter-sharing service for people with disabilities. Watch here. The new e-scooter-sharing service is provided...
2019-11-19 In Latest
The car-sharing breakthrough for wheelchair users
Soon it won’t be a dream anymore to car-share as a wheelchair user. Recently, the world’s first car-sharing system for wheelchair users called “WheeM-i” has been showcased at the GITEX Technology...
2019-10-24 In Latest
Free Tickets to Swiss Handicap 2019
Swiss Handicap will take place again in Lucerne this year on 29th and 30th November with the theme “work”. Over 100 exhibitors will gather at this unique national trade fair to promote independence...


Swiss Paraplegic Research
Guido A. Zäch Strasse 4
6207 Nottwil

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
T 0800 727 236 (from Switzerland, free of charge)
T +41 41 939 65 55 (from other countries, charges apply)

Be part of the Community – sign up now!