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Clinical Presentation and Natural History

The classic symptoms of syringomyelia (i.e., suspended sensory loss, segmental weakness and burning) are often not present in individuals with SCI. Many individuals may lack symptoms in general or present with nonspecific symptoms that may be attributed to other complications of SCI such as spasticity, autonomic dysreflexia or neuropathic pain. Most commonly, symptoms include radicular pain, gait ataxia, sensory disturbance, dysesthesias and motor weakness (Brodbelt & Stoodley 2003; Klekamp & Samii 2002; Kramer & Levine 1997; Lyons et al. 1987). As syringomyelia progresses, reduction in sensation and increased spasticity may be seen (Carroll & Brackenridge 2005). Progression is usually slow in most patients, with the clinical presentation remaining static for many years (Mariani et al. 1991).