What is Chiari malformation?
Chiari malformation is a problem in which a part of the brain (the cerebellum) at the back of the skull bulges through a normal opening in the skull where it joins the spinal canal. This puts pressure on parts of the brain and spinal cord
and can cause mild to severe symptoms.
Chiari Malformation can produce sleep apnea, weakness or numbness in an extremity, neck pain, pain across shoulder blades, general body pain, ringing in the ear, trouble walking, blurred vision, mood changes, anxiety, migraines, and problems with memory or concentration.
With surgery as an option, the most common surgery to treat Chiari Malformation is posterior fossa decompression. It creates more space for the cerebellum and relieves pressure on the spinal cord. The surgery involves making an incision at the back of the head and removing a small portion of the bone at the bottom of the skull (craniectomy). But is there another option to relieve the effects related to this condition?
Although I was unable to find any real research on cryotherapy directly in regard to Chiari Malformation, there is plenty of evidence to show cryotherapy helps as a modality to relieve symptoms in other conditions, that we see associated with persons diagnosed with Chiari Malformation.
Cryotherapy has been proven to reduce cortisol levels which attribute to anxiety and depression along with reducing nerve pain and irritation, reduce inflammation and general body pain, and so on. There is some good research showing cryotherapy assisting persons in the reduction of Oxidative Stress and this has seen patients benefit in a holistic way becoming more mobile and less receptive to depression (1). Furthermore, studies have shown the effects of Cryotherapy to be beneficial on pain reduction, and pro-inflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-[TNF-]alpha and interleukin-[IL-]1), (2).
Like cryotherapy, there is not a lot of research regarding using infrared. The main literature all points towards surgery. However, infrared is clinically proven to help with;
• better sleep
• weight loss
• relief from sore muscles
• relief from joint pain such as arthritis
• clear and tighter skin
• improved circulation & reduce inflammation
• help for people with chronic fatigue syndrome
Although there is no clinical evidence to categorically state Cryotherapy and Infrared Therapy is directly a benefit to persons suffering from Chiari Malformation, there is enough evidence to show that these modalities can assist as a peripheral treatment to symptoms related to Chiari Malformation. Chiari Malformation has nothing to lose by trying these alternative treatments and may benefit from some relief of symptoms associated with these alternative treatments.
(1) Miller E. Kriostymulacja czynnikiem antyoksydacyjnym w stwardnieniu rozslanym [Cryostimulation as an antioxidative factor in sclerosis multiplex]. Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2011 Sep;31(183):186-9. Polish. PMID: 21991852.
(2) Lange U, Uhlemann C, Müller-Ladner U. Serielle Ganzkörperkältetherapie im Criostream bei entzündlich-rheumatischen Erkrankungen: Eine Pilotstudie [Serial whole-body cryotherapy in the criostream for inflammatory rheumatic diseases. A pilot study]. Med Klin (Munich). 2008 Jun 15;103(6):383-8. German. doi: 10.1007/s00063-008-1056-5. PMID: 18548207