Chiari malformation is a medical condition that can cause a wide range of various seemingly unrelated symptoms throughout the body, although the most common complaint is severe pressure headaches in the back of the head and neck region. As you may have already figured out, the medical community generally doesn't know a lot about Chiari malformation.
In 2006, researchers believed that slightly less than one in 1,000 people had Chiari malformation. However, in 2012, a neurosurgeon said approximately one in 100 people had the condition. So it's not really a rare condition, but it's rarely diagnosed. If you've been recently diagnosed with Chiari, or think you may have it, you probably have a ton of questions you'd like to have answered, including whether or not cannabidiol can help. Here's what you should know.
Chiari malformation & symptoms
A Chiari malformation is the extension of the cerebellar tonsils into the foramen magnum, which can reduce or change the flow of cerebral spinal fluid. Generally, the headaches with pressure occur when there's a valsalva maneuver. A valsalva maneuver is a natural body reaction of pressure in your head when you sneeze, cough, or strain in any way. This increase in pressure where the malformation is causes a sudden, sharp headache with a feeling of pressure.
This abnormal fluid movement and/or malformation can cause various symptoms such as numbness, pain, tingling, and paralysis throughout the body at unexpected times. It can also cause extreme nausea and vomiting, as well as vision problems. However, the pressure the malformation and the abnormal fluid flow puts on the brain stem can cause symptoms as well, some of which can be quite serious because the autonomic nervous system is controlled by the brain stem. This is the system that controls things like your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. The symptoms will determine the treatment plan.
Treatment depends on symptoms
There are several ways to treat Chiari malformation, and they can correlate to the severity of the symptoms. It's important to understand there is no cure. If the symptoms are mild and do not at all cause you to be unable to enjoy your life, your neurosurgeon may suggest lifestyle changes first. For example, if you get severe headaches when blowing on a trumpet, he or she will suggest not to continue to blow on a trumpet. It could be as simple as that.
If the headaches are too intense for you to handle, there are pain medications and other alternatives, such as cannabidiol oil vape pens, that can help ease your pain. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a derivative of hemp oil. It's sold as as dietary supplement and not as a medication, which is why a prescription is not necessary for it. It does not contain THC, so you won't get high, but you could see pain relief. It's important, however, to do your research regarding the current legal aspects of CBD usage and manufacturing as the laws regarding cannabinoids like cannabidiol are highly debated and subject to changes.
Severe cases of Chiari malformation may be treated with decompression surgery, which involves removing a walnut-sized portion of the skull in order to provide more space so the brain stem is no longer compressed and the cerebral spinal fluid can flow properly. Sometimes, decompression surgery is recommended on an emergency basis, such as when the patient begins to have trouble breathing due to the compression of the brain stem from the malformation. If this is the avenue of treatment, it may still be possible to use CBD vape pens, but you will want to discuss your prescription and non-prescription pain management with your neurosurgeon immediately after getting discharged from the hospital after decompression surgery.