Chiari Malformation & Headache

One of the uncommon causes of headache is called Chiari malformation. Also referred to as Arnold-Chiari, it’s a condition where brain tissue protrudes into the spinal canal. It happens when part of the skull is extra small or misshapen and presses on the brain, forcing it downward.

As with much of the scary stuff I write about, very few people’s headaches are caused by this malformation. So don’t panic! Chiari is detected by an MRI and headache is only one of the many possible symptoms.

Anna Roberts, a medical student in the UK, was recently diagnosed with and had surgery to correct her Chiari malformation. She describes having brain surgery while a medical student — a situation where she has enough information to be scared, but not enough to know what’s really happening.

Mayo Clinic has an easy-to-read explanation of Chiari, it’s symptoms and treatments. You can also learn more from NIH‘s Chiari fact sheet.

[via Kevin MD]