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22 September 2022 : Case report  Hong Kong

[In Press] Neck pain and Headache Complicated by Persistent Syringomyelia After Foramen Magnum Decompression for Chiari I Malformation: Improvement with Multimodal Chiropractic Therapies

Unusual or unexpected effect of treatment, Rare disease

Eric Chun-Pu Chu ORCID logo1ABCDE, Robert J. Trager ORCID logo2CDEF, Gabriel Siu Nam Ng1ABDE, John Sing Fai Shum3BCDE

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.937826

Am J Case Rep In Press; DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.937826  

Available online: 2022-09-22, In Press, Corrected Proof

Publication in the "In-Press" formula aims at speeding up the public availability of the pending manuscript while waiting for the final publication. The assigned DOI number is active and citable. The availability of the article in the Medline, PubMed and PMC databases as well as Web of Science will be obtained after the final publication according to the journal schedule


Patients with Arnold-Chiari Malformation I (CM-I) treated with foramen magnum decompression (FMD) can have ongoing neck pain, headaches, and other symptoms complicated by persistent syringomyelia, yet there is little research regarding treatment of these symptoms.
A 62-year-old woman with a history of residual syringomyelia following FMD and ventriculoperitoneal shunt for CM-I presented to a chiropractor with progressively worsening neck pain, occipital headache, upper extremity numbness and weakness, and gait abnormality, with a World Health Organization Quality of Life score (WHO-QOL) of 52%. Symptoms were improved by FMD 16 years prior, then progressively worsened, and had resisted other forms of treatment, including exercises, acupuncture, and medications. Examination by the chiropractor revealed upper extremity neurologic deficits, including grip strength. The chiropractor ordered whole spine magnetic resonance imaging, which demonstrated a persistent cervico-thoracic syrinx and findings of cervical spondylosis, and treated the patient using a multimodal approach, with gentle cervical spine mobilization, soft tissue manipulation, and core and finger muscle rehabilitative exercises. The patient responded positively, and at the 6-month follow-up her WHO-QOL score was 80%, her grip strength and forward head position had improved, and she was now able to eat using chopsticks.
This case highlights a patient with neck pain, headaches, and persistent syringomyelia after FMD for CM-I who improved following multimodal chiropractic and rehabilitative therapies. Given the limited, low-level evidence for these interventions in patients with persistent symptoms and syringomyelia after FMD, these therapies cannot be broadly recommended, yet could be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Keywords: Arnold-Chiari Malformation; Chiropractic; Exercise Therapy; Manipulation, Spinal; Neck Pain; Therapy, Soft Tissue


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American Journal of Case Reports eISSN: 1941-5923
American Journal of Case Reports eISSN: 1941-5923