Chiari Malformation

Neurosurgery located in Birmingham, AL

Chiari Malformation services offered in Birmingham, AL

The team at Alabama Neurological Surgery & Spine in Birmingham, Alabama, offers unparalleled expertise in numerous areas of practice. Chiari malformation is one of many neurological conditions the practice treats, focusing on improving balance and gait. If you have questions or concerns about your treatment options, call the practice today to book a visit, or schedule online in just moments. 

Chiari Malformation Q&A

What is Chiari malformation?

Your cerebellum is the part of your brain that controls balance. It sits at the base of your skull near the opening where your spinal cord enters. A Chiari malformation occurs when part of your cerebellum extends through this opening and into the upper portion of your spinal canal. 

When this occurs, your spinal fluid can’t flow properly. It can also negatively affect the functions controlled by the cerebellum. 

Researchers find that only around one out of every 1,000 Americans develops Chiari malformation. Most cases develop during the fetal stages, but it’s possible for adults to develop Chiari malformations due to disease, infection, or traumatic injury.    

What are some of the symptoms of Chiari malformations?

Not all cases of Chiari malformation create clear symptoms. In fact, many people only learn they have the condition after having imaging done for another reason. 

When symptoms are present, they can remain steady or change over time, depending on the degree of compression of the tissues and nerves in the area. 

Some indications of Chiari malformation include:

  • Headache, especially after sneezing, straining, or coughing
  • Ringing or buzzing in the ears
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Breathing problems
  • Muscle weakness
  • Curvature of the spine
  • Difficulty eating or inability to gain weight
  • Problems with hearing or balance

These are just some of the changes that can be a symptom of Chiari malformation. 

What kinds of treatments can help with Chiari malformation?

Not all Chiari malformations create problematic symptoms. Treatment is not necessarily needed when function isn’t impaired, and there’s no pain or other symptoms. 

However, when symptoms interfere with your normal daily routines, surgery is currently the only effective treatment approach. Surgical intervention can halt the progression of symptoms, stabilize symptoms, or deliver relief. 

Chiari malformation sometimes causes a fluid-filled cavity to develop in the spinal cord. This cavity is known as a syrinx and causes multiple symptoms. 


One treatment approach strives to decompress the bones that cover your brain and spinal cord. This involves removing a portion of bone tissue from your first few vertebrae to allow more space. Tissue grafting or an implanted shunt help create sufficient room for cerebrospinal fluid to flow.  

Book your visit today using the easy online scheduling tool, or call the office to check appointment availability.