In Chiari malformation, a patient's skull may be misshapen or smaller than normal, compressing the cerebellum. The compression causes parts of the brain to protrude into the spinal canal, obstructing signals from the brain to the body. Most cases are congenital and result from genetic mutations, lack of nutrients during pregnancy, infection during pregnancy, or chemical exposure during pregnancy. However, an adult may develop Chiari malformation when infection or an accident results in spinal fluid drainage.
In many cases, Chiari malformation treatment requires monitoring with regular MRIs. Sometimes, patients will need decompression surgery for Chiari malformation. Additionally, as this condition causes some pain, patients may need to take pain medication. Others will need to use a cane for walking if they have an unsteady gait. Consulting a doctor for effectively treating Chiari malformation is key. Of course, it helps if patients to understand the symptoms first.
When a patient's Chiari malformation is present when they are born, symptoms do not usually manifest until they are in their second or third decade. Neck pain is a prevalent symptom seen in those who have Chiari malformation. The neck pain experienced due to the protrusion of brain tissue into the spinal canal is often described as a heavy pressure that is so strong it produces pain. This pain is known to radiate across a patient's shoulders and down their spine.
There are no pain nerves located in the actual brain tissues that extend into the spinal canal. There is a large concentration of sensory nerve cells in the tissues and areas surrounding them in the vicinity of the spinal canal. When the brain tissue from Chiari malformation causes these nerve fibers to become compressed, pain signals are sent to the brain. The pain in a patient's neck may radiate up into their head and face, manifesting as a headache.
Continue reading to learn more about the warning signs of Chiari malformation now.