Kaci King ~ Author. Speaker. Coach.                                     
"Every great dream begins with a dreamer.  Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience & the passion to reach for the stars to change the world" ~ Harriet Tubman

Craniosynostosis & Chiari Malformation

Symptoms can vary widely for those with chiari.  However, these are common symptoms (and can be common symptoms of increased intercranial pressure in general:

- Headache
- Fatigue
- Migraines
- Dizziness
- Visual disturbances (loss of vision, double vision, "halos", nystagmus
- Tingling/numbness in extremities
- Pain in extremities
- Impaired fine motor skills
- General imbalance/clumsiness
- Memory loss
- Restricted movement
- Intolerance to bright light
- Vertigo
- Difficulty walking on uneven ground
- Poor motor skills
- Back and neck pain
- Insomnia
- Intolerance to loud sounds
- Gagging
- Poor feeding
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weak Cry
- Breathing problems/Apnea
- Poor depth perception
- Unequal pupil size
- Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
- Decreased strength in the hands and arms
- Poor muscle tone
- Developmental Delays


An infant's skull is made up of several bones.  The fibrous joints that allow these plates to push apart to allow for rapid brain growth during the baby's first three years of life are called sutures.  There are several major sutures: sagital, metopic, coronal and lambdoid.  Several of them join at the top of the head in the middle of the skull, better known as the soft spot or anterior fontanelle.  As the brain grows, the sutures allow for rapid expansion in a symmetrical shape.  It is the brain growth that essentially determines the shape of the head and face as well as the size of the skull in normal circumstances.   The brain will push the skull out and grow in whichever direction the bones are not fused, therefore, creating an abnormal head shape.

Craniosynostosis may also cause the pressure inside the head to increase in which the following symptoms may include:
- Developmental delay
- high pitched cry
- unusual behavior (increased irritability,  change in sleep pattern, ..)
- lethargicness
- headaches
- decreased appetite
- vomitting

If craniosynostosis is suspected, a qualified craniofacial team should be consulted right away.  As with any other condition, prognosis is terrific when treated in a timely manner.  Normally, craniosynostosis is diagnosed and treated within the first year of life, when the most rapid head growth occurs.  A 3D CT scan is typically taken to rule out or confirm the diagnosis.  X-rays cannot be relied upon to make that determination.

Chiari Malformation:

Chiari Malformation is characterized by the herniation of the cerebellum (lower part of the brain) through the large opening at the base of the skull into the spinal canal.  Symptoms are generally based on the amount of compression on the brainstem and the amount of blockage with the cerebral spinal fluid flow, not the degree of herniation itself.

If chiari is suspected, an MRI should be ordered to review the base of the brain and cervical spine area (top of the spine).  A neurosurgeon should be consulted who has experience treating and managing this condition.  Be aware that the need to travel for proper care maybe possible.

If symptoms are mild and non-progressive, your doctor may recommend pain management for headaches, physical therapy and an adjustment in activity level to help manage symptoms.

If symptoms warrant a more aggressive approach, surgery may be recommended. 

      Email: kaci@kaciking.com
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