For children there may be developmental issues and congenital anomalies (something abnormal or deviation from norm) present that are causing musculoskeletal problems a chiropractor can help. Congenital disorders are those present before or during birth. And developmental disorders are those that manifest after the first several years of life. This post is about Arnold Chiari: Congenital and Developmental Disorders in children and Chiropractic Care.


What is Arnold Chiari?


Firstly, Arnold Chiari involves the brain stem. The brain stem is the lower part of the brain that’s connected to the spinal cord (part of the central nervous system in the spinal column). It is made up of the mid brain, pons, and medulla oblongata. The Arnold chiari malformation is characterized by elongation of the brain stem. Similarly, there may be a structural defect (e.g. skull is smaller than normal or misshaped).


Secondly, there may be protrusion of the cerebellum below the foramen magnum (oval shaped opening in rear of skull).  The cerebellum are the egg-shaped, structures at the bottom of the brain. It is involved in balance and movement.


Thirdly, normally the cerebellum and parts of the brain stem sit above the foramen magnum in the skull.  Also, the spinal cord passes through the foramen magnum. When part of the cerebellum extends abnormally below this opening and into the upper spinal canal, it is called a Arnold Chiari Malformation.



What are the Symptoms, Causes, and How is it Diagnosed and Treated?


Symptoms usually consist of neck ache, headache, weakness, numbness and various neurological dysfunctions that present and progress gradually, but can be asymptomatic.


Arnold Chiari is most often a congenital defect.  Additionally, Arnold Chiari can be caused by trauma, disease or an infection. The defects are structural primarily of the brain and spinal cord.  Moreover, an Arnold Chiari malformation puts pressure on the brain stem and spinal cord possibly causing dysfunction and pain.


Proper nutrition during pregnancy may prevent Arnold Chiari. For example, folic acid and Vitamin B12 supplementation is important.


Diagnosis of Arnold Chiari without imaging is difficult.  X-ray may only show the possibility of Arnold Chiari due to the smaller or enlarged skull structures visualized.  Therefore, an MRI (magnetic resonance image) is necessary for a diagnosis.


Conventional medical treatment is typically suboccipito-cervical (upper neck) decompression surgery.


Arnold Chiari Classifications


Arnold Chiari Type I


Type I cases usually appear later in life with a mild hydrocephalus.  Hydrocephalus is when excess cerebrospinal fluid (fluid around the brain and spinal cord) builds up within the fluid-containing cavities or ventricles of the brain. The resulting pressure may affect brain functions controlled by this area and block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).  Additionally, a possible syringomyelia (fluid-filled cyst forms within the spinal cord) may be present.


Of note, is an atypical scoliosis pattern developing with a left-sided thoracic (mid back), right-sided lumbar (low back) curve.


Arnold Chiari Type II


Type II cases are more severe.  These appear during infancy with breathing and feeding problems. Hydrocephalus is more increased than type I. Furthermore, there may be dorsal (upper) “kinking” (elevation) of the medulla (part of brainstem) and spinal problems such as spina bifida and meningomyelocele. A meningomyelocele is a neural tube defect in which the bones of the spine do not completely form.


Spina bifida is a birth defect (neural tube defect) that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly. Serious conditions such as paralysis can occur.  A Myelomeningocele is the most serious type of spina bifida. With a Myelomeningocele, a sac of fluid comes through an opening in the baby’s back. If an infant or a child has a myelomeningocele, they may require surgery to reposition the spinal cord and close the opening in their back.




Often associated with an Arnold-Chiari malformation, a syringomyelia is a congenital or developmental dilation (widening) of the central canal of the spinal cord.  A fluid-filled cavity or cyst known as a syrinx forms within the spinal cord.    It can also be due to trauma or a tumor.

Depending upon the size and exact location of the syrinx there can be a variety of symptoms.  Common signs/symptoms include pain in the neck and shoulders, muscle weakness, pain and stiffness in the legs, numbness or decreased sensation, especially to hot and cold, abnormal curvature of the spine (scoliosis), muscle contractions, and ataxia (uncoordinated movements).

Magnetic resonance imaging will demonstrate the level and extent of the syrinx.


Dr. Natalie Meiri


Chiropractic Treatment for Children in West Palm Beach


For Pediatric Chiropractic Care in 2009, a survey found that there were about 68 million pediatric visits to chiropractors. The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners’ most recent practice analysis, issued in 2010, found that about 17 percent of chiropractic patients were under age 18 — approximately 7.7 percent aged five years or younger and some 9.4 percent between ages six and 17. In deed, the American Chiropractic Association cites a study done in 2014 confirming that chiropractic adjustments are overwhelmingly safe in infants and children.

The fact is Chiropractors receive training to adjust all people, from babies to the elderly. Many children have benefited from chiropractic care, including babies.

In conclusion, along with adequate nutrition, sleep and physical activity, adjustments can be life changing for children. For parents who are looking for answers besides putting their kids on more drugs, Chiropractic is a great solution.


Meiri Chiropractic in West Palm Beach


Modification of chiropractic adjusting procedures is necessary for treating children with developmental and congenital disorders such as Arnold chiari. “Softer and lighter” approaches in chiropractic manipulative treatments (e.g. flexion-distraction, blocking, and instrument adjusting tools ) are utilized. Our other therapies, such as soft tissue techniques, therapeutic exercise, and ice/ heat therapies may also provide some relief.


Dr. Natalie Meiri has helped babies and kids with chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue techniques, cranial sacral therapy, and homeopathy. She  has treated babies with ear infections, kids with ADHD, autism, scoliosis, sports injuries and various growing problems.  Contact her at 561-253-8984 for further information on Arnold Chiari: Congenital and Developmental Disorders in Children and Chiropractic Care or to make an appointment.