Syringomyelia develops due to an overgrowth of neuroglia cells, which amount to more than half of the central nervous system and normally participate in many processes including metabolism and regeneration.
How to diagnose syringomyelia?
The most common symptoms are headaches and intermittent pain in the arms or legs, usually more severe in one-half of the trunk. The pain may begin as dull and not intense and gradually increase, or it may appear suddenly, often as a result of coughing or straining.
Pain in the extremities often is present, which tends to become chronic. There may also be numbness and tingling in the arms, chest, or back. Lack of sensibility in the feet, or tingling in the legs and feet, is also noted. Weakness in the limbs in syringomyelia leads to abnormal hand movements or impaired walking. Eventually, the functions of the limbs may be lost.
How is syringomyelia treated?
Diagnosis and treatment for syringomyelia require work of a team of specialists, including neurologists, radiologists, neurosurgeons, and orthopedists.
Treatment usually involves surgery, aimed at slowing down the progression of spinal cord damage and preserving its functions. Surgery for syringomyelia is often performed in the presence of spinal cord compression. In addition, surgical manipulations are performed to correct deformities or to implant shunts. Surgical treatment leads to stabilization or moderate improvement of symptoms in most patients.
Many specialists believe that surgical treatment is only necessary for patients with progressive neurologic symptoms. Delayed surgical treatment can lead to irreversible spinal cord damage and severe persistent neurologic impairment. Statistically, life expectancy of patients with progressive symptoms without surgical treatment ranges from 6 to 12 months.
If surgery can be avoided, medications are prescribed to reduce swelling of the spinal cord and nearby soft tissues. It is often advisable to avoid vigorous physical activity, which may increase venous pressure during drug therapy.
Conservative treatment may involve the following techniques:
- Radiation therapy
- Treatment with radioactive iodine and phosphorus
- Complex intake of medications for targeted dehydration, neuroprotectants, vitamins, analgesics, etc.
- Physiotherapy, massage, therapeutic gymnastics, balneotherapy
Neurological rehabilitation after syringomyelia treatment
The overall goal of rehabilitation is to maintain spinal cord functions using exercises and adaptive equipment. In the case of syringomyelia in children, interventions often focus on correcting scoliosis. Syringomyelia in children is characterized by much less sensory and functional impairment than in adults, which is more favorable for surgical treatment.
In addition, syringomyelia does not progress equally in all patients. Some patients, usually those with more moderate symptoms, experience stabilization of symptoms within a year.
A frequent complication is the patient’s impairment or loss of some function (up to disability). Despite reports of complete neurological recovery after surgery, most patients manage to achieve stabilization or only moderate improvement.
How to start treatment of syringomyelia during a lockdown?
To go abroad for treatment during the lockdown, you need to prepare medical documents, choose a clinic and physician, and get a medical visa. If you want to save money and exclude unnecessary stress and worries, contact specialists with experience in organising treatment of syringomyelia abroad, who will provide support during the whole period of medical program implementation.
Booking Health can become your companion in the medical journey. All of the above aspects of treatment arrangement can be taken over by Booking Health. The process of visa receiving is perhaps the most confusing part here, since embassies might not be working during the lockdown in your place of residence. So, in order to avoid any problems and unnecessary waiting, you can count on Booking Health to help you get a medical visa and start your treatment abroad in time.
More detailed information is available here.