What're the symptoms of syringomyelia?
Early on the cyst disrupts the body's ability to feel pain or temperature. This leads the patient to overlook dangerous conditions that may result in burns or cuts. The first symptoms tend to appear in the fingers and then spread. It is common to have a loss of sensation that spreads like a cape over the shoulders and back. Late in the condition, the affected
individual may have spastic muscles or weakness of the legs.
Many people with the Chiari I Malformation experience no symptoms. When symptoms are present, they usually do not appear until adolescence or early adulthood, but can occasionally be seen in young children. The majority of patients complain of severe head and neck pain. Headaches are often accentuated by coughing, sneezing or straining. Patients may complain of dizziness, vertigo, disequilibrium, muscle weakness or balance problems. Often fine motor skills and hand coordination will be affected.
Vision problems can also occur. Some patients experience blurred or double vision, difficulty in tracking objects or a hypersensitivity to bright lights. Physical examination may reveal nystagmus (involuntary eye movements). Other symptoms include tinnitus (buzzing or ringing in the ear), hearing loss or vocal cord paralysis. Patients may have difficulty swallowing, frequent gagging and choking and, in some cases, sleep apnea may be present.
The Chiari I Malformations may also be associated with other disorders such as hydrocephalus (build up of fluid in the ventricles of the brain) or Syringomyelia. Syringomyelia is a disorder in which cerebrospinal fluid enters the spinal cord, forming a cavity known as a syrinx. It is recommended that patients diagnosed with a Chiari Malformation have the entire spine imaged to rule out the presence of a syrinx, since it may be a consideration in treatment and prognosis.