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Chiari I Malformation and Trauma

Robert Karns

Chiari I malformation is a condition in which the lower part of the brain known as the cerebellum protrudes into the spinal canal creating cerebellar tonsils that block the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid into and out of the head.

This condition is congenital, caused when the lower back of the skull is smaller than normal.  This causes the cerebellum to be crowded and forced out of its normal place inside the skull protruding down into the spinal canal causing the blockage of cerebrospinal fluid.

When not severe this condition can exist and does exist without any symptoms. 

When this condition is more severe or when the condition progresses, symptoms can result. 

A whiplash type injury or other trauma may cause the sudden onset of symptoms by causing this condition to worsen or progress.

Some of the problems associated with this condition are:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • pain
  • numbness and tingling into the extremities
  • balance problems

A diagnosis of this condition can be done by a physician by analysis of the problems and a referral for an MRI scan.

When necessary, surgery can be utilized to correct this condition by performing a decompression and placing the cerebellum back up into its normal position.


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