Symptoms of an Arachnoid Cyst

Some arachnoid cysts cause no symptoms at all. When an arachnoid cyst does cause symptoms, those symptoms depend on where the cyst is located.  When it’s located around the brain, symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hydrocephalus (accumulation of fluid in the brain, which can change the shape of an infant’s head)
  • Developmental delay
  • Behavioral changes
  • Seizures
  • Hearing and visual disturbances
  • Vertigo
  • Difficulties with balance and walking
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Decreased cognitive performance
  • Hemiparesis (weakness or paralysis on one side of the body)
  • Ataxia (lack of muscle control)

Arachnoid cysts around the spinal cord compress the spinal cord or nerve roots and cause symptoms such as:

  • Back and leg pain
  • Tingling or numbness in the legs or arms

An arachnoid cyst that causes any of these symptoms needs to be evaluated for possible treatment, as it may continue to grow and cause neurological damage as it puts pressure on surrounding brain tissue. Since many of these symptoms can be caused by a range of other conditions, an accurate diagnosis is critical (see Diagnosing and Treating an Arachnoid Cyst). The good news is that the prognosis for those with arachnoid cysts is excellent, and the surgery to drain or remove a cyst is safe and effective (see Surgery for Arachnoid Cysts).

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Rebecca Menachem was not making things up. By age 12 she had made so many trips to the school nurse complaining of headaches that, as she recalls now, “everyone thought I was faking sicknesses to go home.” But her migraines were real, and eventually...

Our Care Team

  • Vice Chair, Neurological Surgery
  • Director, Pediatric Neurological Surgery
Phone: 212-746-2363
  • Chief of Neurological Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Queens
  • Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery
  • Co-director, Weill Cornell Medicine CSF Leak Program
Phone: (718) 670-1837
  • Vice Chair for Academic Affairs
  • Professor of Neurological Surgery, Pediatric Neurosurgery
  • Associate Residency Director
Phone: 212-746-2363
  • Victor and Tara Menezes Clinical Scholar in Neuroscience
  • Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery in Pediatrics
Phone: 212-746-2363

Reviewed by: Jeffrey Greenfield, M.D., Ph.D.
Last reviewed/last updated: June 2024

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