Chiari Malformation Awareness Month

Sep 20, 2018

For many, it begins with a headache.

That headache, sometimes triggered by a sudden strain like sneezing, can grow into migraines that leave one curled up and bedridden for days.

The pain soon becomes so frequent it begins to interfere with daily life. The days without pain begin to stand out as unusual as opposed to those dominated by headaches.

And though the pain is awful, many do not seek or put off seeking medical attention because they chalk the pain up to simple headaches. Something that everyone gets and simply has to deal with.

It often takes the pain becoming debilitating or other strange symptoms appearing to make those affected seek medical attention. Unfortunately, those suffering from Chiari Malformation (CM) are often misdiagnosed with  severe allergies, stress, bad posture, or other common ailments. It takes a keen doctor with a careful eye to recognize the signs and symptoms of CM.

What Is Chiari Malformation?

Chiari Malformation is a structural abnormality where the bottom part of the brain, the cerebellum, extends down and out of the skull , crowding the spinal cord and putting pressure on both the brain and spine. When the cerebellum pushes into the spinal canal, it can block the brain’s signals to the body and cause severe pain.

What are the symptoms?

Those affected are born with Chiari Malformation, though diagnosis can take years. While headaches are the hallmark of CM, symptoms can vary greatly and affect everyone differently. Some individuals with CM may not even show any symptoms at all.

Other symptoms may vary among individuals and may include:

  • neck pain
  • hearing or balance problems
  • muscle weakness or numbness
  • dizziness
  • difficulty swallowing or speaking
  • vomiting
  • ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • curvature of the spine (scoliosis)
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • problems with hand coordination and fine motor skills.

Infants with a Chiari malformation may have difficulty swallowing, irritability when being fed, excessive drooling, a weak cry, gagging or vomiting, arm weakness, a stiff neck, breathing problems, developmental delays, and an inability to gain weight.

Treatment for CM

Treatment for Chiari Malformation depends on the type, severity, and symptoms of each individual. For mild cases, Doctors may simply prescribe medication to help ease the pain. For more severe cases, doctors recommend surgery.

If you have experienced any of the symptoms related for Chiari Malformation, please check with your doctor.

Learn More

For more information regarding Chiari Malformation, its symptoms and treatment visit www.ConquerChiari.org.

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