Arnold-Chiari (kee-AR-ee) Malformation is a neurological condition in which the cerebellum descends out of the skull and crowds the spinal cord, putting pressure on the brain and spine.
There are three main types of Chiari. Chiari-Malformation-1, the simplest and most prevalent form, is generally considered to be congenital, (meaning you are born with it), although acquired cases are recognized.
Although Chiari is considered to be a rare condition, it's now diagnosed more frequently, largely due to improved imaging tests (MRIs).
Chiari symptoms often do not appear until adolescence or early adulthood, but can occasionally be seen in young children. Most people complain of severe head and neck pain. Headaches are often accentuated by coughing, sneezing or straining. Other symptoms can include dizziness, vertigo, visual disturbances, ringing in the ears, difficulty swallowing, palpitations, sleep apnea, muscle weakness, impaired fine motor skills, chronic fatigue and "pins & needles" pain in the hands and feet. Because of the complexity of symptoms, patients with Chiari are often misdiagnosed.
Treatment for Chiari malformation depends on its severity and the characteristics of the individual patient's condition. Regular monitoring, medications and surgery are all treatment options.