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November 17, 2017
El Dorado News Times
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Fighting against chiari

By Haley Smith
This article was published September 24, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.

Local teen affected by disorder

Britnee Lynch, a local teenager, was diagnosed with a chiari malformation in November 2016.

After fighting off a stomach virus and what was originally thought to be migraines, Britnee Lynch was diagnosed with a chiari malformation, a disorder that affects 1 in 1,000 people.

“When we came back after the migraine medication wasn’t working, (the doctor) realized that this wasn’t normal,” said Britnee’s mom, Lauren Lynch.

A chiari malformation is a neurological disorder where the bottom part of the brain, the cerebellum, descends out of the skull and crowds the spinal cord, putting pressure on both the brain and spine.

“You are born with it,” Lauren Lynch said. “They do not think that it is hereditary, but it is genetic.”

According to the C&S Patient Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about chiari, the malformation tends to affect women more than men and although symptoms can develop at any age, most people are diagnosed as a child or in their late 20s or early 30s.

Symptoms vary from person to person. The most common symptom is severe headaches in the back of the head. Others include extreme pain in the neck and shoulders, trouble talking and swallowing at times, sleep apnea, nausea, balance problems, weakness and pain in the arms or legs and many more.

For 15-year-old Britnee, it was terrible headaches, dizziness and nausea.

After her diagnosis, the Lynches felt it was best to have Britnee continue school from home. Her doctor did not want her playing any of the sports that she normally did until after having her decompression surgery in April.

In Britnee’s case, the surgery cauterized a part of the cerebellum and the area where the brain reaches the spinal column was enlarged to give both parts more room.

Her surgery was a success and now, five months later, she is back on the basketball court, riding her horse and is hopeful she will begin playing soccer soon.

Lauren Lynch advised any parent who thinks their child may have chiari to “fight. Fight for that MRI. If you are worried about your child’s health, don’t give up.”

Haley Smith can be contacted at 870-862-6611 or at hsmith@eldoradonews.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at @hsmithEDNT.

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