I have mild Chiari malformation

Hi, I have been suffering from anxiety and panic attacks for over 6 years now. I had a couple of MRIs before and they said I had a mild Chiari malformation. I feel that I haven’t really had most of the symptoms typically associated with it though. I almost always have a weird feeling of discomfort/pain behind my eyes and sort of in my face. A few times in the past few years, I have had a weird gripping feeling in the back of my head, usually not though. I haven’t had balance issues, my “headaches” don’t seem to change depending on how I move my body like I have read about in chiari. My main problem is the anxiety, which is what I had attributed all of my symptoms to up until now. So, I’m just wondering, does any of this sound like it could be related to my chiari malformation or no?


Hey Bluewalls,
I have a question for you. Has your neurologist/neurosurgeon told you the size of you malformation? Size seems to have a large impact. I doubt your chiari is having a direct impact on your anxiety as most anxiety conditions are controlled within your frontal lobe, at the front of our skulls. As you state you do not believe you’ve had many physical symptoms I doubt any surgeon would consider surgery. Chiari or decompression surgery would be highly unlikely to have an impact on your anxiety as far as I am aware. If the size of the malformation changed and it was causing more physical issues then a surgeon may consider it but in my opinion it does not sound chiari related. Now, in saying that I am not a surgeon nor a neurologist and they would be the best people to be obtaining a medical opinion from. Surgery is often not considered as a first option and it may be recommended as a ‘Wait and Watch’ scenario, just to see if there is any changes in size and physical impact. For many neurological conditions a ‘Wait and Watch’ recommendation is made as neurosurgery is major surgery and not something that is undertaken lightly or when it is not deemed a necessity.

Merl from the Moderator Support Team

Thank you for the reply. To answer your question, the neurologist said my cerebellar tonsils extend 6 mm below the foramen magnum.

Hello @bluewalls ! I am so sorry you have been suffering with anxiety, discomfort, balance issues, etc. Some of it sounds like Chiari but It could also be linked to other issues. Have you had another big symptoms? I know having migraines/headaches for weeks is very common with Chiari. Have you had other neurosurgeons opinions? Before I got surgery, I got 6 other opinions. Good luck with everything and I hope things work out with you :slight_smile: !

My symptoms are:

panic attacks
fast heart rate with minimal exercise
pain/weird sensations behind and under eyes
tingling in forehead
weird sensations in my right cheek, sometimes left

Like, I said, the main problem is anxiety. I could live with everything else if I could just get rid of the anxiety somehow. I thought all of my symptoms were related to anxiety for several years. Now I just don’t know. I can’t seem to get rid of the anxiety no matter what I try. Psychotherapy didn’t help at all. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and klonopin have had minimal or no beneficial effects. How crazy would it be for me to have the decompression surgery, hoping it would make my anxiety go away? Is there any chance that would work? I’ve just been looking for answers lately. Chiari malformation is really the only thing I have been able to find wrong with my body.