|Syringomyelia (SM)(Sear-IN-Joe-My-E-Lee-Uh), or “SM“, is a chronic disorder of the spinal cord which consists of the formation of a syrinx (a pocket of cerebral-spinal fluid sometimes referred to as a cyst, hydromyelia, or syringohydromyelia) inside the spinal cord. The syrinx may expand and elongate as it deteriorates the spinal cord from the inside out and usually causes nerve damage. SM is sometimes progressively degenerative and typically has a slow onset, however, symptoms can very easily rapidly progress due to strain or by trauma to the spine. It can easily yield very painful neurological symptoms of varying intensities and at varying times. In fact, most patients with SM are quickly dismissed as being psychosomatic.|
A variety of erratic neurological symptoms may present themselves including severe pain, possible pain induced vomiting, temporary or permanent loss of feeling in various parts of the body, sharp tingling or throbbing pain in un-isolated parts of the body, loss of hot and/or cold sensations in some areas of the skin, sudden hot and cold sweats, shooting pain in the arms and/or legs, weakness and/or wasting of the upper extremities, persistent extremely bad headaches, and in some cases stroke, blindness, paraplegia or quadriplegia can result.
A syrinx may be caused by trauma to the spine or by a Chiari I Malformation (key-are-E), or “CM” which is a congenital malformation of the hindbrain area of the skull that allows the brain to protrude beyond the base of the back of the skull. For reasons just now being understood, this causes a disruption in cerebral spinal fluid, the primary known cause of SM. It is currently estimated that CM results in approximately 70% of all currently known SM cases, however, due to the lack of knowledge of SM in adults, that number is likely to be inaccurate.
The only way CM or SM can be diagnosed is with an MRI only as an X-ray is not capable of showing the presence of a syrinx. With the introduction of MRI technology and more people surviving car accidents with spinal cord trauma these days, it is very likely that a large number of adults have trauma-induced SM and are unaware of it. They may simply think they are just having back pain that just won’t go away.
The worst news about SM is that there is currently no cure.
Click here for the Research Study Findings on Syringomyelia at Washington University’s School of Medicine (one of the country’s top medical schools).
This disorder remains unknown to most people in the United States, unfortunately, even in the medical community as Founding President, Christopher S. Burton, learned on a very personal level. After being hospitalized and severely mistreated, he decided to take action by assisting in the creation this foundation to ensure that others would not share in his agony simply due to lack of knowledge in the medical community.
The goals of the Christopher S. Burton Syringomyelia Foundation are to:
- raise and distribute funds to those who are diagnosed and can demonstrate a financial and medical need;
- assist with short or long term financial assistance while social services are pending or insufficient;
- raise awareness in the general public in hopes of finding a cure someday soon, and;
- educate the medical community.