Chiari Malformation Symptoms

The Cause And The Four Types

By: - Health & Fitness - July 19, 2011
chiari malformation symptoms the cause and the four types

Chiari malformation occurs during gestation. The section of the skull which contains the cerebellum is too small and is typically deformed with this disease. This puts pressure on surrounding brain structures causing various symptoms. The different types and symptoms of Chiari malformation are explained below

Chiari Malformation Type I

The most common and severe of Chiari malformation symptoms are headaches that are often debilitating and are usually precipitated with sudden coughing, sneezing or straining. People with Chiari Malformation Type I also experience the following symptoms:

  • Neck pain
  • Tingling and numbness of the hands and feet
  • Difficulty swallowing accompanied by gagging, choking and vomiting
  • Visual disturbances (double and blurred vision)
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills
  • Slurred speech
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Problems with bladder control
  • Chest pain, that feels like a band like compression around the chest
  • Spinal curvature (scoliosis)
  • Abnormal breathing – sleep apnea in particular

Chiari Malformation Type II

This type of Chiari malformation is considered one of the most severe forms of the condition. A greater amount of tissue protrudes into the spinal canal compared to type I. Signs and symptoms are similar to a form of spina bifida, referred to as myelomegingocele.  In this case, the backbone and spinal canal did not completely close before birth.

Chiari Malformation Type IV

Symptoms of Chiari malformation in type IV are the most severe. With this type, the entire brain never developed. This type is identified at birth or using intrauterine ultrasound. All of the symptoms mentioned above are associated with type IV.

The pediatric form Type II Chiari Malformation is associated with melomeningecele. Chiari I malformation involves the two that portions of the skull, normally small to begin with, but in Chiari I malformation, the spaces are even smaller than normal.

When a part of the brain called the cerebellum is pushed into the spinal cord, this interferes with the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and symptoms of Chiari malformation present. This fluid protects the brain and spinal cord. When circulation is impaired, this leads to blockage of signals transmitted from the brain to the body and symptoms occur. Pressure on the lower brainstem causes neurological signs and symptoms that can vary and be confused with other neurological disorders. Careful screening is required to rule out other causes before deciding on an accurate diagnosis of Chiari malformation.

Consistent, qualified medical care can offer a certain degree of symptomatic relief for Chiari Malformation symptoms with the use of medications and certain procedures. Some of these procedures involve injections to dystonic muscle groups, such as Botox injections. Other more risky treatments involve surgical intervention. There is no cure but improving quality of life can be maintained for sufferers with appropriate medical care. Work with a specialist in this condition consistently to offer the best outcome.

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