Chiari 1 Malformation (CM1) occurs the back of the skull is too small to contain the cerebellum. This puts pressure upon the cerebellum and forces the cerebellar tonsils down out of the skull and into the neck. As pressure is continually applied to the brainstem and cerebellum, damage is done to both structures. The cerebellum controls the body's sensory processing center and the brainstem controls the body's autonomic nervous system. Damage to either of these structures causes very serious and wide spread symptoms. Spinal fluid flow may also be impaired by the out of place cerebellar tonsils. All of this creates an effect very similar to the effect of cranial settling and very few doctors are able to distinguish the difference. However, as treatment is different for each disorder, distinguishing whether an individual has CM1 or cranial settling is vital.
Symptoms: Severe headache and neck pain, dizziness, lightheadedness, vertigo, disequilibrium, palpitations, difficulty swallowing, visual disturbances, ringing in the ears, palpitations, sleep apnea, impaired fine motor skills, chronic fatigue, painful tingling of the hands and feet, muscle weakness, and scoliosis
"Red Flag Symptoms": (related to brainstem compression) severe swallowing difficulty, tachyarrhythmias, severe nausea (causing a drop in weight to below 90 lbs), and central sleep apnea
Diagnosis: MRI can be used to diagnose CM1. Symptoms may aid in diagnosis but PATIENTS WITH CM1 MAY NOT PRESENT ANY SYMPTOMS.