Updated on January 31, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Syringomyelia is a debilitating condition with far-reaching consequences to the patients who have it. What starts as a small, fluid-filled cyst in the spinal cord, called a syrinx, can grow and impact multiple bodily functions. Each patient presents symptoms differently depending on the location of the syrinx, but the most prominent trait shared by syringomyelia patients is pain. The condition causes persistent pain that is often overbearing.
Currently, mainstream medicine only recognizes one way to successfully remove syrinxes — surgery. Although the procedure has found great success among syringomyelia patients, the operation isn’t recommended for everyone, and it has serious potential risks. That’s why, unless you have a severe case, most doctors recommend managing syringomyelia symptoms.
Working with your physician, you’ll usually have a series of pain medications to minimize discomfort caused by the condition. This option has no curative value and patients can become dependent on opioids or other pain meds.
Medical marijuana has incredible potential as a syringomyelia treatment. It’s an excellent analgesic, treating all manners of pain, from neuropathic to muscle aches. It also can help with muscle stiffness, spasms and tremors. The most exciting possibility is marijuana’s ability to shrink syringomyelia syrinxes.
If a syringomyelia cyst begins impacting mobility or grows to the point that it causes damage to the spinal cord, at that point doctors usually recommend surgery. Depending on the cause of the syringomyelia, three types of operations help correct the issue:
All surgery has risks, but because of the precarious location of the syrinx in the spinal cord, these types of operations are especially dangerous. There are several risks and complications that can arise:
When surgery is either impossible or unsuccessful, there are few options available for syringomyelia patients. Medical marijuana is available in many states for patients suffering from chronic pain, a common side effect of the condition. Individuals with this disorder are finding incredible relief from many of the symptoms associated with syringomyelia by using cannabis medications, including:
But beyond treating the symptoms, medical marijuana may address the root cause of syringomyelia — the fluid-filled cysts. Patients using cannabis medication to treat pain and other symptoms found dramatic improvement in their mobility and their quality of life. There is even anecdotal evidence from patients reporting that their cysts shrunk in size after several months of marijuana treatments. This allowed them to continue to live pain-free and without the need of surgery.
Unfortunately, because marijuana is federally banned, there is limited research available about the benefits cannabis could have for syringomyelia patients. If you think medical marijuana would be a good treatment option for you or a loved one, it’s important to discuss this with your doctor. Our advice shouldn’t replace theirs since they will know the specifics of your condition and medical history.
For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat Syringomyelia, check out our resources: