Paralysis is weakness of part of the body, and it usually signals serious damage to the brain, spinal cord, or nerves of the body. Paralysis describes complete or partial weakness of the body or part of the body. It can occur suddenly or gradually as a result of conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, or nerves.If you or someone else experiences paralysis, it’s
Paralysis describes complete or partial weakness of the body or part of the body. It can occur suddenly or gradually as a result of conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord, or nerves.
If you or someone else experiences paralysis, it’s important to get medical attention right away—it could be caused by a health emergency, such as a stroke or damage to the spine.
This article will describe the symptoms of paralysis, types, possible causes, diagnosis, and treatment, and when to see a healthcare provider.
Paralysis feels like you can’t move part of your body the way you want to, no matter how hard you try. It is an alarming symptom that’s hard to ignore. Paralysis may involve an arm or a leg, or it may involve the hand, foot, or face.
Symptoms that commonly occur along with paralysis include:
Paralysis is not usually associated with pain, jerking, or tremors. After weeks or months, painful spasticity—abnormal muscle tightness—can develop in the paralyzed limb.
Paralysis can include "paresis," which is a partial weakness of part of the body. Complete weakness of part of the body is called "plegia."
Types of paralysis include:
Generally, paralysis or paresis of the face or the whole arm or leg will only involve one side of the body, and this is usually caused by a health condition affecting the brain or spinal cord. Often, paralysis or paresis of the foot or hand may involve both sides of the body, and it’s usually caused by a health condition affecting a nerve, like peripheral neuropathy.
Many different conditions can cause paralysis, including:
These issues may cause permanent paralysis, but prompt treatment can lessen the long-term severity of the weakness.
In general, medications don’t usually cause paralysis as a side effect. Some medications used for surgical anesthesia are muscle paralytics that temporarily paralyze the muscles during surgery. The paralytic effects are temporary, and strength should return once the medication is stopped.
Paralysis can be treated with several medical interventions. The short-term treatment involves treating the cause.
Examples of treatments for paralysis include:
Physical therapy and rehabilitation are a vital part of recovery and increased function if you have experienced paralysis due to any cause.
If you’ve experienced paralysis, you will need a thorough medical evaluation. This will include a comprehensive neurological examination, which involves steps such as checking your reflexes, strength testing, sensory examination, and more.
A general sense of fatigue can make you feel weak, but this is not the same as paralysis, which is due to a problem with neurological control of a muscle or muscles. The difference will be apparent based on your physical examination.
Other tests that you would need will be determined based on the pattern of your paralysis and may include:
The results of these tests can help your healthcare providers distinguish the type of condition that’s causing your paralysis.
Decreased muscle control or changes in sensation, vision, or speech can indicate a serious medical issue and you need to get medical attention promptly.
Paralysis can be a symptom of different conditions that affect the brain, nerves, and spinal cord. It is a serious symptom that can affect one or more areas of the body. The pattern of paralysis often corresponds to the cause. Generally, diagnostic testing is necessary. Treatment can often reduce long-term weakness, and rehabilitation is usually necessary.
If you have developed paralysis, it is important that you get prompt medical attention. Paralysis is a symptom of serious neurological conditions. You will need to have medical treatment to prevent the condition causing it from worsening. Paralysis is serious, but you can have a good outcome with consistent rehabilitation and medical care.
Damage to the brain, spinal cord, or nerves can cause paralysis.
Nutritional deficits should not cause paralysis. Issues of malnutrition can cause general fatigue and weakness, paresthesia (tingling, numbness, or other unusual sensations), and muscle atrophy. But these issues rarely cause the type of loss of motor control that’s characteristic of paralysis.
Paralysis can sometimes improve on its own, but it usually does not. In fact, paralysis can often worsen if the cause is not adequately treated.
Paralysis might not be noticeable to other people, but sometimes it is very noticeable. It can look like a droopy face or a floppy arm or leaning to one side. Sometimes leg paralysis can cause a sudden fall.