Arnold Chiari malformation

Arnold- Chiari malformations is a condition where there are structural defects in the lower part of the brain. In this condition, the small brain (cerebellum) gets displaced (herniation) downward through an opening at the base of the skull. This results in a disturbance in the normal flow of the fluid which circulates in the brain and the spine. (The fluid is called cerebrospinal fluid.)

This is a type 2 Chiari malformation that was named in the honor of Austrian pathologist Chiari and German pathologist Julius Arnold. Type 1 Chiari malformation is a deformity by birth which involves disorders of connective tissue.

Causes 

1) Idiopathic: The cause of its occurrence still remains unknown.

2) Congenital: Hydrocephalus (collection of fluid in the skull), vitamin D resistant rickets, neurofibromatosis type 1. It can run in families sometimes if children inherit a gene which causes problems with the skull development. The child may be asymptomatic in the initial years of his life but they may get evident later. However, there is a small risk of children inheriting this problem.

3) Acquired: Post-trauma (Whiplash injury to head)

- It is known that the traction force of a ligament in the tail of the spinal cord tries to create pressure on the spinal cord which pulls the cerebellum (small brain) downwards thereby also causing bending of the spinal cord (scoliosis).

Signs and Symptoms

It gives rise to many pressure symptoms as follows:

- Headaches 

- Dizziness

- Irregular eye movements (nystagmus)

- Facial pain

- Difficulty in swallowing

- Nausea, vomiting

- Fatigue, muscle weakness

- Neck pain

- Unsteady gait

- Difficulty in concentration

- Numbness and tingling in the feet

- Speech problems like hoarseness of voice

- Difficulty in hand coordination (fine motor skills affected)

Rare symptoms

- Tinnitus (ringing in ears)

- Abnormal breathing

 This defect can progress slowly or rapidly.

Diagnosis

MRI is considered to be the best way to diagnose this malformation. However, a good clinical history of the patient with the neurological examination is also important.

Diagnosis of the suspected malformation can be made through ultrasound before birth.

Exercise

There are some exercises that help therapeutically in Chiari malformation. Low impact exercises can be done after consulting your physician concerned. Some precautions like lifting heavy weights, brisk walking, swimming, cycling should be avoided.

Scope of homeopathy

It is important to know that homeopathy is not a substitute for surgery in such cases. It can only treat symptomatically up to a certain level. It cannot prevent the further progress of the disease since it is a malformation wherein the cerebellum can herniate at any level any time depending upon the patient’s lifestyle and nature of the activity. One can possibly delay surgery if the patient benefits symptomatically through homeopathy. At Life Force, we have little experience based on only two cases (as of November 2017) and the results are yet inconclusive.

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