This post discusses an Arnold-Chiari malformation after injury. The Bishop Law Firm represents personal injury and workers compensation clients in North Carolina and we do not get paid unless we win your case. Call us today for a free case evaluation, (919) 615-3095.

What is an Arnold-Chiari Malformation?

As you will see from the picture above, an Arnold-Chiari malformation occurs when brain tissue extends into the spinal canal because it is being pressed. In addition to pressure, a Chiari Malformation can happen later in life due to blunt trauma or by a drain of spinal fluid. There are three types of Chiari Malformation based on the type of brain tissue that is pushed into the spinal cord. Different parts of the brain control different functions, emotions and sensory perception (Via NIH and Mayo Clinic).

Human Brain Anatomy

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms depend on the type and size of the brain tissue that are involved however, size is not always the determining factor. For example, the cerebellum is only about ten percent of the total weight of the brain, but it contains roughly half of the brain’s neurons, specialized cells that transmit information via electrical signals (Via HealthLine).  Headaches, issues with balance, sensation, dizziness, weakness/numbness and vision problems are all possible symptoms (Via WebMD). Chiari Malformations are also linked to Hydrocephalus, Spina Bifida, and Syringomyelia which we have written about in the past. An MRI, CT or x-ray (note that x-rays only show bone not brain tissue but will be used to detect bone abnormalities causing the Chiari Malformation).


Many with Chiari-malformations do not have symptoms and thus do not need treatment but for those that do, pain medication and surgery are the most common treatment options. A posterior fossa decompression attempts to create more space for the cerebellum by removing bone from the bottom of the skull (craniectomy) or the roof of the spinal canal (laminectomy). If this does not remove the pressure, the surgeon may want to perform electrocautery to remove the cerebellar tonsils. Shunting may also be performed to help relieve excess spinal fluid (Via NIH).

Arnold-Chiari Malformation After Injury

An Arnold-Chiari Malformation after injury can be caused by head or neck trauma. You may already have a dormant malformation that becomes symptomatic after a head injury. If you have been injured in an accident, immediately report to the hospital/doctor and let them know your symptoms and what type of injury you sustained. Please note that most hospitals offer x-rays only to accident victims and x-rays will not demonstrate the Arnold-Chiari Malformation only the bone around it. Depending on the severity of your malformation, you may need several surgeries to correct it while taking heavy pain medications to help with the severe pain. You may also need future medical treatment.

Speaking with a North Carolina personal injury attorney about your Arnold-Chiari Malformation after injury can help you receive all compensation for which you are entitled including recovery for medical expenses, lost wages, future medical care and loss of consortium to name a few. The Bishop Law Firm represents car accident and personal injury victims in Raleigh, Durham, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Smithfield, Louisburg, Chapel Hill, Roanoke Rapids, and surrounding areas in North Carolina. We do not get paid unless we win your case, (919) 615-3095. Call us today!