Paralysis Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Paralysis has now become a common health issue in the modern world. In India 1 in every 100 is facing some forms of issues related to paralysis. Paralysis is the loss of the ability to move some or all of the body. It can have lots of different causes, some of which can be serious. Depending on the cause, it may be temporary or permanent. The term is derived from the Greek word that means disabling of the nerves. This is because it is usually due to damage to the nervous system that there is a loss of motor function or sensory information. Here we are discussing the causes, symptoms and treatment of paralysis.
What is paralysis?
Paralysis is a loss of strength in and control over a muscle or group of muscles in a part of the body. Most of the time, this is not due to a problem with the muscles themselves. It is more likely due to a problem somewhere along the chain of nerve cells that runs from the body part to your brain and back again. These nerve cells deliver the signals for your muscles to move.
There are many types and degrees of paralysis. The condition can be:
- Partial, when you still have some control of your muscles
- Complete, when you can’t move your muscles at all.
- Permanent, when muscle control never comes back.
- Temporary, when some or all muscle control returns.
- Flaccid, when the muscles get flabby and shrink.
- Spastic, when the muscles are tight and hard and jerk around oddly
What are the causes of paralysis?
There are several possible reasons that one may experience temporary or permanent paralysis. It is usually a result of damage to the spinal cord or other parts of the nervous system. Muscle movement is controlled by trigger signals relayed from the brain. When any part of the relay system such as the brain, spinal cord, nerves, or junction between the nerve and the muscle is damaged, the signals to move do not make it through to the muscles and paralysis results. More than 30% of the reported cases in India alone is from stroke and coming close to this is multiple sclerosis at 17%. Other causes of paralysis include cerebral palsy, post-polio syndrome, brain and spinal cord injuries, neurofibromatosis and conditions that are present by birth. The main causes of paralysis are
- Cerebral palsy
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Spina bifida
- Multiple sclerosis
- Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Additionally, some medications may impact the function of the nerves and in rare cases have the potential to cause paralysis.
What are the symptoms of Paralysis?
Paralysis is sudden and is often a side effect of injury to the brain or spinal cord. Sometimes a stroke or cancerous cells pressing against the brain cells can also cause paralysis. Symptoms of paralysis may vary based on the cause but are often easy to spot. A person born paralyzed due to a birth defect, or paralyzed suddenly due to a stroke or spinal cord injury, will be partially or totally unable to move the affected body parts. At the same time, the person may experience muscle stiffness and decreased feeling in the affected body parts.
A person who becomes paralyzed due to a medical condition might lose muscle control and feel slow. The person might feel tingling or numbing sensations or muscle cramps before losing control of his or her muscles. The main symptoms of paralysis are
- numbness or pain in the affected muscles
- muscle weakness
- visible signs of muscle loss (muscle atrophy)
- involuntary spasms or twitches
- Weakness in the face
- An irregular heartbeat
- Trouble breathing or swallowing
How paralysis can be diagnosed?
Diagnosing paralysis is often easy, especially when your loss of muscle function is obvious. For internal body parts where paralysis is more difficult to identify, your doctor may use X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, or other imaging studies.
Other similar diagnosis tests would be
Myelography: This test uses a contrast dye that is injected into the spinal canal to make the nerves show up very clearly on an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI.
Electromyography: This test is used to measure the electrical activity in the muscles and nerves.
Spinal tap: A long needle is injected into the spine to collect spinal fluid.
How can we treat paralysis?
Paralysis can have a big impact on your life, but support is available to help you live as independently as you can and have the best possible quality of life. There is currently no cure to paralysis, however, there are multiple options available in terms of extensive care and mobility that could improve the lives of patients with partial paralysis.
- Physical therapy uses treatments such as heat, massage, and exercise to stimulate nerves and muscles.
- Occupational therapy concentrates on ways to perform activities of daily living.
- Mobility aids include manual and electric wheelchairs and scooters.
- Supportive devices include braces, canes, and walkers.
- Assistive technology such as voice-activated computers, lighting systems, and telephones.
- Adaptive equipment such as special eating utensils and controls for driving a car.
The complications of paralysis also require sufficient management and monitoring. It is helpful to be aware of possible complications so that signs can be recognized earlier if they do occur. Additionally, medical management of these conditions is justified and should be addressed to improve the quality of life of each individual. A doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes, medications, surgery, or other treatments to help manage potential complications. If you’re seeking treatment for paralysis the better option to go for would be Nikhil Hospitals. You can ask your doctor for more information about your specific diagnosis, treatment plan, and long-term outlook.