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Chiari and pregnancy - is surgery necessary before pregnancy?

Hello All,

I've suffered with Chiari for the past 10+ years, some years I barely notice it but it's definitely become more of a daily problem for the last few years.  I've found significant relief through occipital nerve blocks.

I've seen many doctors over the years and surgery is always their recommended course of action.  I feel like my symptoms are manageable enough (most headaches, neck/back pain, and fogginess) to forgo surgery.  That said, my husband and I want to try to have a baby.

I'm very concerned about the toll that pregnancy may take on my body, especially since you can't take Tramadol or medicinal marijuana (I live in IL and have my card) while pregnant.

Curious to hear from women who decided against surgery before pregnancy.  How did you manage pain during pregnancy?  Did you opt for a c-section for delivery?

Thanks!
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620923 tn?1452915648
COMMUNITY LEADER
Hi and welcome to the Chiari forum.

I had my daughter before I got my Chiari DX...so I am not much help in regards to you wanting to know which I choose to do.....I did have my daughter, and I had an epidural....I was told I had to have it.....well I wound up with the headache due to a CSF leak.....5 days flat on my back.....I had no idea about my Chiari so, I had no idea how something like this could affect it.....the leak could have pulled the tonsils down further then they were...which would cause more symptoms.....pain meds do not touch Chiari pain.

My biggest problem after having my daughter was being able to hold her, my neck and shoulders hurt so much, I now know that was due to the Chiari..

Surgery should only be done if you have a CSF obstruction or other physical issue that surgery can correct....most of Chiari symptoms are neurological and surgery may not help those....so make sure you have  a CINE MRI, and ALL related conditions ruled out.....and lastly, make sure you have a true Chiari specialist to help advise you.
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1 Comments
Thanks for the welcome, and for your response.  Sounds like you had a rough experience, I've definitely read that many women first discover they have Chiari after childbirth.  I've been on several different medications and courses of treatment over the years.  While Tramadol is not a cure-all by any means, it definitely helps ease my shoulder and neck pain.  The nerve block is a godsend.  It took over 10 years for a doc to recommend that to me and I'm so glad that someone finally did!

I am also concerned about carrying around a baby, post-delivery.  The amount of lifting and holding will be a major strain.  After I'm with my niece and nephew, I'm in pain for days and have to be very careful about picking them up.

I've had several CINE MRIs since my diagnosis and definitely appreciate the suggestion.  I'm thankfully working with a great team at Northwestern in Chicago right now.  It took many years to find a doctor that actually listens and has the expertise to help.

So glad to find a community that understands!  Thank you!
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