What is Chiari Malformation?

Chiari malformation is a brain disorder affecting about 1 in every 1000 people in America. Usually, the condition occurs at birth, but you may not discover it until later in adulthood. It is likely to develop in women more than in men. When not treated, the disorder is fatal and may cause severe complications. The Roswell Chiari Malformation specialists at APEX Spine and Neurosurgery offer comprehensive treatments to restore your health and prevent complications. Keep reading to learn more about Chiari malformation.

What is Chiari malformation?

It is a rare condition where your brain tissue extends to the spinal canal. Chiari malformation develops when the skull does not grow to the ideal shape and size of your brain.

Chiari malformation occurs in three forms, types I, II, and III. Types II and III occur at birth, while type I develops after birth during your brain and skull development.

Not everyone with Chiari malformation develops symptoms, meaning they may not require treatment. In other cases, Chiari malformation may involve severe conditions, such as

  •         Hydrocephalus, which involves having excess fluid in the brain
  •         Tethered cord syndrome, where your spinal cord attaches to the spine
  •         Spina bifida is the malformation of the spinal cord
  •         Syringomyelia is a condition where you have a cavity or cyst in your spinal column

Forms of Chiari malformation present at birth may be detected early or after birth.

What are the symptoms of Chiari malformation?

Usually, the main symptoms include headaches. The headaches are severe and mostly come after a coughing, sneezing attack, or sudden straining. The headache pain may feel sharp or stabbing and may spread to your neck and shoulder.

 For type 1 Chiari malformation, you may not show any symptoms until your teen years or early adulthood.

Other symptoms of Chiari malformation include the following.

  •         Vision and hearing problems, including double or blurred vision, increased sensitivity to light, ringing sound, and hearing troubles
  •         Balance and movement problems such as dizziness, muscle weakness, coordination issues, vertigo
  •         Difficulty sleeping
  •         Trouble speaking, eating, and drinking
  •         Bladder and bowel issues
  •         Scoliosis, the curving of the spine
  •         Chronic fatigue, fainting episodes, palpitations, tingling, and burning sensations

What are the treatment options for Chiari Malformation?

Your treatment option is based on the type of Chiari malformation you are experiencing. In cases where you have pain and headaches as your major symptoms, you may benefit from pain medications. However, for other symptoms, additional treatments may be necessary.

Usually, your provider offers surgery to address other Chiari malformation symptoms. The surgery focuses on restoring the normal flow of your spinal fluid, by minimizing the pressure on the spinal cord and the brain.

The surgical procedure involves removing a part of the bone from the back of your skull. Your provider also creates more space in your brain. The procedure has risks, hence the need to discuss it with your surgeon before deciding on your ideal treatment.

Most people find symptoms relief with surgery. However, if you already have nerve injury in the spinal canal, the damage may be irreversible. Follow-ups after the treatment are necessary to enhance healing.

Contact APEX Spine and Neurosurgery today to schedule your consultation.