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Chiari Malformation & Chiropractic

Updated: Mar 14


Chiari Malformation & Chiropractic

If you have been diagnosed with a Chiari malformation, you may be wondering what treatment options you have or how chiropractic may actually be able to help you. It all boils down to two words:


  1. Compliance

  2. Flow


Let’s have a look at each of these in terms of how chiropractic may be able to help people with Chiari malformations.


Chiari Malformation, Compliance, and Chiropractic


Compliance refers to flexibility. In our bodies and brains, we need to have a certain onramp amount of flexibility in our muscles, ligaments, and also our fevers which includes the brainstem. In the case of a Chiari malformation where your brainstem and/or cerebellum (i.e., balance and coordination center) may actually protrude slightly out of the base of your skull on account of a developmental asymmetry, a chiropractic misalignment involving either of the top vertebrae in your neck - either the atlas (C1) or axis (C2) may reduce the overall compliance (flexibility) of this area.


Normally, your spinal cord and brainstem and capable of moving as you breathe approximately 1cm. However, it may be possible that if the alignment of C1 or C2, which support and tether onto your brainstem like a series of tension cables should be affected - off by even 2mm - they may impart abnormal tension that may reduce the overall compliance or flexibility of this area. As a consequence, a person who needs a chiropractic adjustment for their upper neck and has a Chiari malformation may experience a number of symptoms including headaches, migraines, vertigo, neck pain, pressure, neuralgia, or even other symptoms associated with brainstem function including vagus nerve and/or sympathetic nerve dysfunction.


Chiari Malformation, Cerebrospinal Fluid Flow, and Chiropractic


A chiropractic misalignment in solving either the atlas or axis may cause additional problems for people with a Chiari malformation but disrupt the normal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow as well. The CSF is the fluid that protects and provides energy, electrolytes, and oxygen for your brain. This fluid normally circulates normally in a rhythmic manner similar to breathing and circulation. However, it is possible that when the upper part of your neck misaligns that it produces abnormal current flow, which in turn disrupts the normal function of this area.


Again, this is one common reason why people who have a Chiari malformation and also have a chiropractic misalignment at the base of their skull experience pressure inside the head, migraines, visual problems, a sense of imbalance, dizziness, chronic fatigue, and even symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.



Blair upper cervical chiropractic and Chiari malformation


For people diagnosed with a Chiari malformation, it is seldom discussed how chiropractic may be an option for them as opposed to surgery or simply taking medications to mask or manage the symptoms associated with it. Fortunately, there may be another option. Here is thus where a novel, natural and non-invasive option known as Blair upper cervical care may be able to help you. The Blair technique is part of a special division of chiropractic known as upper cervical care, which focuses on the alignment of the top vertebrae in the neck - the atlas (C1) and the axis (C2) - because of their unique relationship between brain and body function.


Unlike general spinal manipulation, the Blair technique has been designed and developed so that there is no twisting, cracking, or stretching of the neck at all. Instead, the procedure is designed to be light and precise so that it may have the greatest opportunity to work with the least amount of force.




We believe in the innate healing potential that resides in every human being: that it is the wisdom and power that made their body that allows for healing from inside-out, not from the outside in. Thus, when people experience health issues or symptoms including those associated with Chiari malformation, we believe it is a result of interference with that normal innate healing function. So rather than treating the symptoms of Chiari malformation, we work to address the underlying issue (when that issue so happens to be a chiropractic misalignment in the upper part of the neck) so that your body can function and do what it is designed to do: heal itself.


Upper cervical chiropractic and Chiari malformation Brisbane


Although the Blair technique (and indeed upper cervical chiropractors in general!) is still quite rare here in Australia, there are options to be able to help people with Chiari malformation. Atlas Health is the leading Blair upper cervical chiropractic centre in Australia. Located in North Lakes (north Brisbane), we work with people in our local community as well as across Brisbane and interstate to help find long-term solutions too that they can enjoy the thing in life that matters most to them. Our principal, Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, is the only advanced certified Blair upper cervical chiropractor in Australia with over 15 years of experience. He is a published author, international lecturer, and recognised leader in the field of upper cervical chiropractic care. To schedule a consultation to find out if the Blair chiropractic approach may be able to help you or a loved one with Chiari malformation, please contact our office at the Click Here link at the top of the page or call us direct at 07 3188 9329.


References


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Freeman MD, Rosa S, Harshfield D, Smith F, Bennett R, Centeno CJ, Kornel E, Nystrom A, Heffez D, Kohles SS. A case-control study of cerebellar tonsillar ectopia (Chiari) and head/neck trauma (whiplash). Brain Inj. 2010;24(7-8):988-94. doi: 10.3109/02699052.2010.490512. PMID: 20545453. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20545453/



Hulens M, Rasschaert R, Vansant G, et al. The link between idiopathic intracranial hypertension, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome: an exploration of shared pathophysiology. J Pain Res. 2018 Dec 10;11:3129-3140. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S186878. eCollection 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30573989



Ibrahimy A, Huang CC, Bezuidenhout AF, Allen PA, Bhadelia RA, Loth F. Association Between Resistance to Cerebrospinal Fluid Flow Near the Foramen Magnum and Cough-Associated Headache in Adult Chiari Malformation Type I. J Biomech Eng. 2021 Jan 16. doi: 10.1115/1.4049788. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33454731.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33454731/



Rosa S, Baird JW. The craniocervical junction: observations regarding the relationship between misalignment, obstruction of cerebrospinal fluid flow, cerebellar tonsillar ectopia, and image-guided correction. Smith FW, Dworkin JS (eds): The Craniocervical Syndrome and MRI. Basel, Karger, 2015, pp 48-66 (DOI:10.1159/000365470).



Van Oosterwijck J, Nijs J, Meeus M, Paul L. Evidence for central sensitization in chronic whiplash: a systematic literature review. Eur J Pain. 2013 Mar;17(3):299-312. doi: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2012.00193.x. Epub 2012 Sep 25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23008191



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