Paralysis|Symptoms| Causes|Treatment

man on a wheel chair

Paralysis (also called paraplegia, hemiplegia, quadriplegia, palsy) is the loss of function or strength over a muscle or group of muscles in our body. This problem happens when something passes in the wrong way with message transfer between muscles and brain. Paralysis can be partial and complete. It can occur in one body part or maybe widespread

Paraplegia is the paralysis of the lower half body including the legs. Paralysis of legs and arms is known as quadriplegia

Types of paralysis

Main two types of paralysis are following:

Complete paralysis

When someone cannot control or move their paralyzed muscles at all or may not be able to feel anything in all body muscles, is known as complete paralysis.

Partial paralysis

When paralyzed person able to feel something and possibly control over paralyzed muscles is known as partial paralysis and sometimes, it is called paresis.

Some other types of paralysis are following:

Localized paralysis

It happens when on specific area is affected such as hands, feet, face, or vocal cords

Generalized paralysis

Paralysis which is grouped by how much of a body is affected and is more widespread in the body. This type is usually depending on where the spinal cord or brain is injured


A form of generalized paralysis in which one limb is affected


Diplegia affects the same area of the body on both sides such as both legs, either side of the face, or both arms


Also known as tetraplegia. It affects or paralyzed all four limbs, sometimes along with certain organs


It is the paralysis of lower half body including both legs or from the waist down.

5.Locked-in syndrome

It is the most severe and rarest type of paralysis in which a person is completely paralyzed or loses their control over all body muscles except eye muscles that control eye movement.

Paralysis can be spastic or stiff when muscles are jerky and tight. Most people have spastic paralysis with cerebral palsy.

Paralysis can also be flaccid or floppy when muscles sag and eventually shrink


Depending on the form and cause of the issue, a symptom varies. Loss of muscle strength or function is the most common symptom of paralysis.

Some other symptoms of paralysis are following:

  • Pain or numbness in the affected muscles
  • muscle weakness
  • visible signs of muscle atrophy (muscle loss)
  • involuntary spasms or twitches
  • stiffness

Paralysis symptoms that may affect the nervous system including:

  • Clumsiness
  • Changes in mood, personality, or behavior
  •  loss of consciousness for even a brief moment
  • Drooling

Other symptoms that may affect other body systems including:

  • Loss of vision or changes in vision
  • Hearing loss
  • Severe headache

Paralysis most commonly caused by:

  • Stroke(reduction or interruption in the supply of blood to any part of the brain)
  • multiple sclerosis (a disease that affects or disable the spinal cord and brain)
  • spinal cord injury ( damage of spinal cord resulting in the loss of function like feeling and/or mobility)
  • cerebral palsy (a disorder that affects the movement ability and posture and maintenance balance of a person)
  • Head injury (any type of injury to your skull, brain, or scalp)

Some other causes include:

  • Peripheral neuropathy (diseased or damaged nerves that carry information to and from the spinal cord and brain from and to the other parts of the body)
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome (a rare disorder in which nerves are attacked by body’s immune system)
Diseases cause paralysis

Following diseases or conditions that caused paralysis are:

  • Demyelinating diseases(condition, resulting in damage of protective covering (myelin sheath) that surrounds nerve fibers in your spinal cord, optic nerves, and brain)
  • Periodic paralysis(a rare genetic disease that leads to paralysis or weakness from common triggers like high carbohydrate meals, excitement or stress, heat, cold, not eating, and any kind of physical activity)
  • Sleep paralysis(feeling of being unable to move and conscious)
  • Bell’s palsy(a disorder that causes a temporary paralysis or weakness in the face muscle)
  • HTLV-1 associated myelopathy (tropical spastic paraparesis (TSP)(a disorder of the spinal cord caused by HTV-1 (human T-lymphotropic virus)
  • Motor neuron diseases (MNDs)(nerve cells that direct the muscles you use to breathe, walk, move your limbs,, and talking are affected by MNDs)
  1. Upper motor neuron diseases(like PLS (primary lateral sclerosis), affect only upper motor neuron and makes muscles spastic and stiff).
  2. Lower motor neuron diseases(like SMA (spinal muscular atrophy), affect just lower motor neuron and makes muscles floppy or flaccid.
Other factors/problems

Meanwhile paralysis can be affect to any one muscle or more than one, so it also affect many body functions. Some of the factors/problems that can appear along paralysis are including:

  • Problems with heart rate, breathing, and blood flow
  • Variation in the normal function of glands, organs, and other tissues
  • Variation to joints, bones and muscle
  • Pressure sores and skin injuries
  • Blood clots in the legs
  • Loss of bowel control and urine
  • Sexual problems
  • Problems swallowing or speaking
  • Mood changes and behavior

Diagnosing paralysis is easy to do because major symptom, loss of muscle control in a body part, is obvious.  Some tests for diagnosing paralysis are including:

  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Myelography
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Spinal tap


Currently, no cure for paralysis exists. However, depending on the type and cause of the issue, some people experience complete or partial recovery.

Temporary paralysis that caused by Bell’s palsy or stroke, may treat on its own without medical treatment.

Also, when paralysis results from a chronic neurological  or spinal cord injury condition, a person may recover partial muscle control.

Although rehabilitation does not treat paralysis completely, it can help prevent symptoms from worsening.

Available treatments include:

  • occupational therapy
  • physical therapy
  • mobility devices, such as braces, wheelchairs, and walkers
  • nerve transfer surgery
  • medications
  • surgical amputation
  • Assistive technology like telephones, lighting systems, and voice-activated computers.
  • Adaptive equipment like special eating utensils and controls for driving a car.

Social support and emotional can also play important roles in a person’s treatment.

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