Categories Chiari Malformation

Chiari Malformation, Symptoms, and Causes

I’d like to talk to you about today is something that we’ve had people literally travel to our office from all over the world, and that’s for a condition that’s become a lot more aware lately with the advanced imaging, and that’s called a Chiari malformation.

If you searched and you found this video, or this blog, then more than likely you’re familiar with Chiari malformation, if you’re not what happens is part of the lower brain, particularly the cerebellar tonsils, the lower part of the cerebellum, will actually come down through the opening of the head down towards the cervical spine.

Now medicine’s approach to this is they see the effect, which is the brain being pushed down through the foramen magnum, the opening, so their approach is to go in and actually remove the bone around the brain, brain stem, upper part of the neck and they literally surgically will remove the bone so that the bones now do not put that pressure on the cerebellar tonsils and the lower brain. Well, what we do at the Upper Cervical Spine Center is we have found that most of the time, those people with Chiari malformation, the cause is because those upper bones are out of alignment. Now the misalignment isn’t necessarily what’s causing the pressure on the brain, brainstem, and tonsils, but that’s what’s created the whole pushing down of the brain.

Through the top two bones in the neck, around the head we have something that’s called the dura mater, and it is basically a sac that goes inside the skull, comes out and around the brain stem, goes around both the top two bones, and when those bones get misaligned, it’ll actually twist and it’s like twisting a bread bag around the brain stem, while the cerebral spinal fluid is produced in the middle of the brain. So it’s produced in the brain as your brain is producing more and more fluid it circulates down through the spinal cord, and that sac goes all the way down, well if one of those bones are misaligned and squeezing down and closing off that bread bag, the brain’s still producing cerebral spinal fluid, but it doesn’t have anywhere to go.

What happens is it literally pushes the brain down, through the lower opening of the skull, the foramen magnum, creating the visual effect we see in Chiari malformation on an MRI or CT scan, which in turn creates the pressure too which can lead to … We have such a wide range of symptoms; headaches, neck pain, dizziness, foggy headed, pain down in the extremities, so we see all kinds of crazy symptoms and it’s just because that pressure’s pushing down on the brain, pushing that brain stem deep into those top two bones, when all along the problem isn’t the brain, or the cerebellar tonsils, but the problem is actually created when these bones got misaligned some time ago, could have been a car accident, a fall, a trauma of some kind to the head, neck or back caused one of those bones to get out of align and that’s what’s creating the Chiari malformation.

So if you have Chiari malformation, somebody’s diagnosed you with it, then I would suggest go and see an Upper Cervical doctor, see if there’s an Upper Cervical misalignment here that could be creating the Chiari malformation, if so then hopefully they’ll be able to correct it and actually remove the Chiari, which in turn is going to give you your life back. I would absolutely suggest this before doing anything invasive like surgery. I’ve had some post-surgical patients that were in much worse shape after the surgery than beforehand. If you’ve been diagnosed with a Chiari, find an Upper Cervical doctor near you.