Type 1 Chiari Malformation

Despite the fact that there is no underlying cause for the development of scoliosis in 8 out of 10 cases, there are a number of medical conditions that can lead to a curvature of the spine.  We've discussed some of these conditions - including Marfan syndrome -  in the past, and today we'd like to talk about another: Chiari malformations.

What is a Chiari malformation?

A Chiari malfomation is a structural defect in the human brain that causes part of the cerebellum to sit below the foramen magnum. When the bony space at the lower rear of the skull is smaller than usual, the cerebellum and brain stem can be pushed downwards, affecting the function of this part of the brain. This can cause reduced muscle strength, balance problems, neck pain and dizziness, along with several other symptoms and medical issues.

How are Chiari malformations linked with scoliosis?

Spinal curvature is common among people with a type 1 Chiari malformation (CM), the most common form of the condition. In this form of CM, the lower part of the cerebellum extends into the foramen magnum without the brain stem, an opening that only the spinal cord passes through in normal circumstances. This form of CM is often left unnoticed until adolescence or adulthood, and is usually diagnosed during an examination for another condition. This means that you may already have identified your scoliosis without realising that CM is an underlying cause. 

Both a sideways (scoliosis) and forward (kyphosis) curvature of the spine can be caused by a type 1 Chiari malformation, and both of these conditions are often present in children due to the fact that their skeletons have not yet fully matured. As is the case with scoliosis itself, CMs are more commonly found in women than in men.

What treatment is available?

For sufferers of CM type 1, symptoms can usually be managed with medication. In more serious cases, skull and spinal surgery may be considered as an option to relieve pressure on the brain, or to correct a tethered spinal cord in children. To help relieve the pain and discomfort caused by spinal curvature, treatment options such as our ScoliGold method can provide lasting results without the need for surgical intervention. As with all of our patients, CM sufferers who attend a course at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic will receive a range of therapies tailored to their exact needs, relieving the symptoms of their spinal curvature while keeping their underlying medical issues in mind at all times.

For more information on how we can help to treat the symptoms of CM, please feel free to contact Scoliosis SOS today.
Back pain consultation

If you're interested in attending one of our ScolioGold treatment courses, the first step is to undergo an initial consultation with one of our scoliosis specialists. This allows us to assess whether or not our ScolioGold programme could benefit you. 

Your initial consultation will take one of two forms:

  • Visit to our Clinic - If you are able to travel to our London clinic, one of our consultants will evaluate your symptoms in an appointment lasting 40 to 60 minutes.

  • Remote Consultation via Telephone/Skype - We treat many patients from all over the UK and the rest of the world, and so we are more than happy to carry out your consultation over the phone if you are unable to visit our clinic in person. These appointments are conducted in the same way as our face-to-face consultations, although we will require you to send over some photographs of your back and/or your X-rays beforehand so that we may assess your condition properly.

What will happen during my consultation?

First, one of our expert consultants will go through your medical history and symptoms, gathering information about your condition and any previous treatments you may have received. The consultant will then evaluate your spinal measurements, a process that includes a radiation-free back scan if you visit our clinic in person. The consultant will then outline the treatment options available to you, offering their recommendations for a treatment plan along with expected outcomes and a rough time scale.

If you are interested in finding out how our treatment courses could dramatically alter the symptoms of scoliosis without surgery, get in touch with Scoliosis SOS and book your initial consultation today!
People who suffer from Marfan syndrome experience problems with the connective tissues within their bodies; this affects the structure of their form and the support of their internal organs. In most cases, the sufferer will have inherited the condition from their mother or father, as the gene responsible for Marfan syndrome has a very high chance of being passed from parent to child.

Diagnosing this condition can be particularly difficult for medical professionals, as the symptoms often vary from person to person. While in many cases the symptoms are visible in childhood, the condition often remains unidentified until the patient's teenage years, the process of diagnosis being made even more difficult by the rarity of the condition. 

Due to its effect on the body's tissues, Marfan syndrome can often cause problems with the body's growth and development. One common side-effect of Marfan syndrome is scoliosis, as it can cause the spine to curve to the sides abnormally. Statistics have shown that more than 6 out of 10 Marfan syndrome sufferers will develop scoliosis, causing them to experience back pain, and even leading to breathing problems in severe cases.

What can Scoliosis SOS do to help?

As there is currently no cure for Marfan syndrome, it is important that the syndrome's symptoms are managed in the best way possible in order to provide relief from pain and to reduce the risk of further complications. Although surgery is sometimes suggested as a solution for the symptoms of scoliosis, this is a fairly drastic form of treatment that comes with many risks to the patient. It also comes with a long healing time, which is an added inconvenience, particularly for younger patients.

At Scoliosis SOS, we take a different approach to treatment, using a variety of non-surgical therapies to deliver long-lasting results. Combining specially-devised exercises with osteopathic principals and other methods of treatment, the ScolioGold programmes delivered at our clinic are able to provide substantial reductions in spinal curvature. They also allow our patients to continue their progress at home, allowing them to see continued progress and experience ongoing relief from pain.

If you're a Marfan sufferer who has trouble dealing with the symptoms of scoliosis, please don't hesitate to get in touch! You can find more details of our treatment courses here.
There was potentially exciting news from Japan last month: researchers at Hiroshima University seem to have identified the gene that kick-starts the "genetic chain reaction" that eventually causes scoliosis.

As we've discussed previously on this blog, the causes of scoliosis are often unclear. However, according to a report from Asian Scientist, we are now one step closer to a solid answer: experiments on zebrafish have linked the development of scoliosis to an overactive gene called LBX1


It would seem that too much LBX1 activity can cause the spine to become misshapen as time progresses, resulting in scoliosis. This link is supported by the results of two different experiments:
  • #1 - Researchers injected a group of zebrafish embryos with extra LBX1 proteins. In these embryos, the cells that would eventually become the fish's backbone were notably wider than in embryos with normal LBX1 levels. The LBX1-boosted embryos that survived long enough to do so eventually developed misshapen bones in their backs, resulting in scoliosis.

  • #2 - A second group of fish were genetically modified to promote extra LBX1 activity in some cells over the course of their lifetimes. Unlike the other group of embryos, some of these fish developed healthy backbones at first, but the spines still began to display a scoliotic curve as they grew older and entered adulthood.
The results of these experiments mirror the development of scoliosis in human beings; the first group of fish are analogous to people who are born with scoliosis, while experiment #2 offers a potential explanation for idiopathic scoliosis, which typically develops during adolescence.

(Even more intriguingly, the Hiroshima researchers noticed that their female test subjects were more likely to develop scoliosis than their male counterparts. Science has yet to provide a concrete explanation as to why scoliosis is more prevalent in women than in men, but it's certainly interesting to learn that this phenomenon applies to zebrafish as well as to human beings.)

Naturally, it will take a lot more research before these findings can be used to treat scoliosis, but it is very exciting to see these strides being made. In the meantime, if you'd like to find out more about how scoliosis can be treated without the need for surgery, please visit our ScolioGold Therapy page or contact us to arrange an initial consultation at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic.
Have you attended one of our scoliosis treatment courses? If so, we'd love to read your review!

We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic love getting feedback from our patients and their families. Reviews help us to make sure that we're doing everything we can for the people who visit our clinic, and so we'd really appreciate it if you could take a couple of minutes to give us a rating and tell the world about your Scoliosis SOS experience.

Please review us on one of the following websites:


Thank you very much!

Need to get in touch with the Scoliosis SOS Clinic? Give us a call on 0207 488 4428 or click here to submit an enquiry online.