A syrinx is an expansion of the central canal within the spinal cord. This expansion disorts the nerve tracts that run next to the expanding fluid filled canal. The syrinx has to be large enough to distort the cord and most syringomyelias are not large enough to do that. In fact, most syringomyelias are found as an unexpected MRI finding that has nothing to do with the patient’s symptoms.
The symptoms that can occur with a syrinx typically are in a “cape-like” distribution. That is, the symptoms would be distributed in areas that a cape would touch the body- the back of the neck, shoulders, arms, hands and chest.
The symptoms would include muscle weakness, loss of pain and temperature sensation, stiffness and pain in the back, shoulders, arms and legs, bowel and bladder dysfunstion and possibly problems with balance while walking.
If your doctor has performed a complete physical examination and found no association between your symptoms and the syringomyelia, especially if the syrinx is small, do not focus on this as the cause of your symptoms.
Donald Corenman, MD, DC is a highly-regarded spine surgeon, considered an expert in the area of neck and back pain. Trained as both a Medical Doctor and Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Corenman earned academic appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and his research on spine surgery and rehabilitation has resulted in the publication of multiple peer-reviewed articles and two books.