Chiari Specialist

Chiari malformation is a condition some babies are born with, or which might develop when they’re older, that causes chronic headaches and other symptoms. If you have Chiari malformation, Sebastian Villarreal, MD, and George Galvan, MD, of Texas Neuro Spine can help. They have three convenient locations in San Antonio, Texas, and another in Kerrville, Texas. To benefit from their expertise in treating Chiari malformation, call Texas Neuro Spine today or use the online form to book an appointment.

Chiari Q & A

What is Chiari malformation?

Chiari malformation is an unusual condition where brain tissue is present in your spinal canal. It happens when your skull doesn’t develop into the right shape or size for your brain.

Chiari malformation has three types: You’re born with Types II and III, whereas Type I develops following birth when your brain and skull begin to grow.

Chiari malformation can cause potentially serious complications, including:

  • Spina bifida (malformation of your spinal cord)
  • Hydrocephalus (excess fluid in the brain)
  • Tethered cord syndrome (spinal cord is joined to your spine)
  • Syringomyelia (a cavity or cyst in your spinal column)

If you have Chiari malformation that isn’t affecting you, you might not need to undergo any treatment. If you do have symptoms, you should consult the neurosurgeons at Texas Neuro Spine.

What symptoms does Chiari malformation cause?

The primary symptom of Chiari malformation is headaches, which are often severe. They tend to develop after a bout of coughing or sneezing, or with a sudden strain.

Type I Chiari malformation may not cause symptoms until a child is older or reaching early adulthood. At this point, symptoms might include:

  • Neck pain
  • Difficulties balancing
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of fine motor skills
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Numbness and tingling in the extremities
  • Gagging and choking
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Problems with voice and speech

Other less common symptoms of Chiari malformation Type I include slow heart rhythm, tinnitus, sleep apnea, weakness, and curvature of the spine.

What treatments are there for Chiari malformation?

A combination of physical therapy, modifying your activities, and using anti-inflammatory medication is often effective in relieving cervical stenosis. It’s always best to try these conservative approaches for several months before considering other options.

If you’re still experiencing symptoms due to cervical stenosis, epidural steroid injections and nerve blocks can help by reducing the inflammation.

These injections offer long-term improvement in symptoms even when other approaches aren’t working. If injections aren’t helping, spinal cord stimulation is another option.

For patients whose neck pain from cervical stenosis persists despite treatment, surgical options are available at Texas Neuro Spine.


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