Just how common is Chiari?

At least that is what my neuroligist says...needless to say I'm not going to her anymore. Just how "common" is it?

I recieved a confirmed diagnosis in May of 2013 by Dr, Oro and I was both devistated and relieved. I live in a small town that didn't have a neuroligist until recently. I thought it was going to be a relief not to make the 6hr drive... I was wrong! She keeps treating me for migraines and at the last visit she made the statement "Chiari is no big deal! It's fairly common." Where can I find some statistics?

An ingrown toe nail isn't a big deal either unless you have one.

In any event Chiari is not terribly uncommon occurring in 1:1000 births. Fewer than 2:10 are ever considered surgical. In the world of neurology it is one of the more commonly seen conditions. The actual incidence is thought to be much high as most are not found to be symptomatic and with broader use of MRI are being found more frequently. A great nonbiased source can be found at


There has been two "surgical fads" over the years. One was in the 90's where it was believed by a group of NS that the would could cure FMS and CFS and that Chiari was the cause of these conditions. More recently there were a number of headache centers doing the surgery to reduce headaches. We have gotten past that the past few years and there is less chiari surgery being done. Current science pretty much reduces the use of surgery to restoring CSF and/or reducing risk from a syrinx or syringomyelia. Some of the "headache myth" is still around. Better data is being collected and explanation for the 30% failure rate of the surgery and high rate of multiple surgeries. Many surgeons have success rates exceeding 90% but they are more selective in the patients they choose.

The patients we see here are not generally typical. They have complications, are surgical or are just passing through with a a new diagnoses looking for information.