Severe headache is one of the main symptoms of Chiari malformation, in which a part of the brain tissue extends into the spinal canal. The headache normally happens after coughing/straining and is located at the back of the head towards the neck. The pain generally resolves 5 minutes after the provoking manoeuvre has stopped (e.g., coughing fit). This may be accompanied by other symptoms indicative of brainstem dysfunction, such as dizziness, difficulty swallowing, and speech issues.
If the Chiari malformation is causing severe symptoms or posing a significant threat to the person’s brain health, the pressure in the brainstem can be reduced with surgery in order to stabilise the flow of cerebrospinal fluid.
Chiari Malformation – Brain Foundation – description, treatment and prognosis