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Chiari Malformation


A Chiari malformation (CM) is a condition that affects the position of your brain within your skull. Your cerebellum (lower part of the brain) is pushed through the hole at the bottom of your skull. This blocks the normal flow of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) between the brain and spinal canal. Your CM may be caused by problems that developed before you were born. For example, your brain may not have enough room if your skull is smaller than normal. A CM can also develop if too much CSF is drained from your spine, such as from an injury or infection.



  • Medicines may be given to decrease the amount of CSF your body makes or to decrease CSF pressure. You may also be given prescription pain medicine, muscle relaxers, or antidepressants to relieve pain.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage your CM:

  • Sleep upright on a wedge pillow or an adjustable bed to help decrease headaches.
  • Massage or physical therapy may help relieve muscle spasms.
  • Avoid high-risk activities that could cause head and neck injury, such as roller coasters, skiing, and competitive sports.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your signs or symptoms get worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have new or sudden trouble breathing.
  • You become less alert than usual, or you lose consciousness.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.