Chiari I malformation is a condition where that part of the cerebellum (tonsils) hang down 4mm or greater into the cervical spinal canal.
It is estimated that this condition occurs in people at the rate of 1 in 1,000. The majority of these cases are asymptomatic, meaning the condition does not give rise to any symptoms. Often, Chiari I malformations are detected by coincidence when patients are undergoing diagnostic tests for other reasons. Someone who undergoes an MRI of the cervical spine to determine if there is a herniated cervical disc can discover they have Chiari I malformation.
Symptoms & Additional Complications
Chiari I malformation may go unrecognized in adults until something happens that causes symptoms. A whiplash injury or other accident or brain trauma may cause the sudden onset of symptoms, which may include:
- Neck pain
- Visual problems
- Loss of muscle strength in the hands and arms
- Buckling of legs
- Visual problems
These symptoms are caused when the normal flow of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) is blocked as a result of the Chiari I malformation interrupting the normal flow of CSF.
The CSF can form a cavity within the spinal cord when this blockage occurs known as syringomyelia or syrinx. The syrinx can cause further symptoms and can occur as a complication of trauma.
As stated, Chiari I malformation, although congenital, can be aggravated by trauma, including a whiplash injury or other accident or trauma making the Chiari I malformation symptomatic, causing the above-listed symptoms and causing post-traumatic syringomyelia.
Chiari I malformation can be diagnosed by using a CT scan of the brain; an MRI of the brain, cervical spine, and thoracic spine; along with other nerve tests.
Chiari I malformation when symptomatic can be treated with surgery to relieve the symptoms and stop the progression of the syrinx. This is treated by decompression surgery to open up more space for the cerebellum at the back of the head. Anyone suffering the above symptoms after experiencing trauma especially to the head and neck should seek medical care and undergo diagnostic testing to see if they have Chiari I malformation that has been aggravated by trauma.
Brain Injury Attorneys in Providence
Karns & Kerrison offers clients the benefit of working with a law firm that includes a well-known authority on the topic of traumatic brain injury and personal injury law. Our founding attorney, Robert T. Karns, has earned a reputation for his knowledge and skill in traumatic brain injury (TBI) advocacy and is on the Executive Committee of the Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group.
He is prepared to go to bat for you before insurance claims adjusters, judges or juries. His in-depth knowledge often helps counteract insurance companies' initial refusals to pay for special treatment, such as surgical decompression, that can take the pressure off an injured person's brain affected by Chiari I malformation.
Visit our brain injury page for more information on how Karns & Kerrison handles these cases or contact our office today to set up a free consultation.