There is some talk about similarity of chiari I malformation symptoms and symptoms of chronic pain diseases, especially fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Chiari 1 malformations in adults, when they actually cause symptoms, can cause many symptoms that overlap with fibromyalgia symptoms. For example, fatigue, insomnia, impaired focus and memory, mood problems, leg cramps, muscle pain and migraine headaches are some of the symptoms that are common to both chiari 1 malformations and fibromyalgia.
Chiari malformations are much more rare than fibromyalgia, especially if you are comparing symptomatic chiari malformations and fibromyalgia. That is, many chiari type I malformations do not cause symptoms at all, so it is rare that a person who presents with fibromyalgia symptoms will actually end up having a previously undiagnosed chiari type 1 malformation. Chiari malformations can easily be diagnosed with an MRI scan of the head or a CT scan. If a chiari 1 malformation is detected, treatment depends on the severity of the brain herniation and the symptoms that are occurring. Some symptomatic treatment, such as prescription of pain killers or use of over-the-counter pain killer medications, may be appropriate. Anti-inflammatory medications can also help relieve symptoms. A person with a chiari 1 malformation may need regular MRI or CT scans to monitor the malformation and make sure that it is not getting worse over time. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat a chiari malformation. The goal of chiari malformation surgery is to reduce pressure on the herniated part of the brain.
Chiari 1 malformations are symptomatically similar in some respects to fibromyalgia, but they are distinct conditions. Chiari 1 malformations can also cause some symptoms that are not usually found in fibromyalgia, including peripheral neuropathy, sleep apnea and serious problems with balance and motor control. It would be rare, but possible, for a person to be suffering from both conditions at the same time, but this is a chance occurrence. Anatomical studies of fibromyalgia patients suggest that there is little link between fibromyalgia and degree of brain herniation through the foramen magnum. Thus, chiari malformations are not a cause of fibromyalgia.