The presentation of CM1 usually includes some kind of head pain — classically, a headache at the back of the head while coughing, sneezing or exerting. Other common symptoms can be diffuse numbness, tingling, pain or heaviness into the neck, trunk, arms and legs.
The list of less common symptoms is very long and can involve sensory and motor changes throughout the body. The presentation of CM1 in children and adults is similar, though younger children tend to have more brainstem dysfunction, while older children and adults have more sensory problems. Both children and adults may experience:
- Breathing difficulties
- Chiari dropping attacks or brief fainting spells
- Swallowing difficulties
In children, Chiari malformation occurs equally in boys and girls. In adults, it is three times more common in women than in men.