It’s a unique condition that can cause headaches, difficulty concentrating, or poor balance, to name a few symptoms. It’s called Chiari malformation, and most people are born with it but don’t show symptoms until their 20’s or 30’s. HealthONE has one of the few treatment centers across the country to treat this unique disorder.
September is Chiari Malformation Awareness Month, and HealthONE continues to work to provide education to patients and families.
At HealthONE’s Medical Center of Aurora, Chiari (khee-AH-ree) malformation is close to our hearts as we are home to the Colorado Chiari Institute (CCI). Chiari malformation occurs when the brain tissue extends into the spinal canal. While normally present at birth, most people don’t develop symptoms until early adulthood and these often include difficulty with concentration, finding words, swallowing; headaches; hoarseness; muscle weakness; poor balance; trouble walking, and vision impairment. The good news is Chiari malformation is most often treatable.
For some patients, symptoms are mild, and we can help them find relief through medications, relaxation techniques, and lifestyle adjustments. If symptoms do not improve, we may recommend surgery such as posterior fossa decompression surgery. This procedure relieves crowding between the bottom of the skull and the upper cervical spinal canal.
A related condition is called syringomyelia (sih-ring-go-my-E-lee-uh). Often associated with Chiari malformation I, syringomyelia occurs when a fluid-filled cyst develops within the spinal cord. As the cyst enlarges, it may damage the spinal cord, causing pain, weakness, and stiffness. If symptoms are bothersome, surgical intervention can bring relief.
During Chiari Malformation Awareness Month, HealthONE’s The Medical Center of Aurora and the Colorado Chiari Institute continue spreading the word about this diagnosis and treatment available right here in our area.
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