Healthy working muscles are often under appreciated until you can’t move one.
Paralysis means you’ve completely lost muscle function. Your muscle is paralyzed (doesn’t move) no matter how hard you want it to. You are in a paralytic condition when affected by paralysis.
Your muscle paralysis happens when something goes awry with the passage of messages between your brain and muscles. A paralyzed muscle is caused by a loss or impairment to a neural or muscular mechanism.
Normal muscle function requires communication all along the motor pathway, a chain of nerve cells that runs from your brain through the spinal cord and out to your muscles. A complete interruption of communication anywhere along the pathway prevents muscle movement. Your muscle(s) is paralyzed.
Paresis is the condition describing an inefficiency that causes muscle weakness. Any condition causing paresis may progress from weakness to paralysis. And nerve regeneration or regrowth can return strength to a paralyzed muscle.
A paralyzed muscle may be flaccid, flabby and without tone. Or it may be spastic, tight and with too much tone.
A cause of paralysis may affect an individual muscle or, more commonly, an entire region. Paralysis can be complete, partial, localized or widespread. The types of paralysis are classified into these regions:
- hemiplegia ~ one side
- monoplegia ~ only one limb
- paraplegia ~ both legs & trunk
- quadriplegia ~ legs, arms & trunk
- diplegia ~ same body region on both sides
If your breathing muscles become paralyzed, then your paralysis quickly becomes life threatening.
Most paralysis is due to strokes or spinal injuries. But as this list indicates, there are other causes for paralyzing consequences:
- brain injury
- Bell’s palsy
- spinal tumor
- tick paralysis
- sleep paralysis
- toxins or poisons
- periodic paralysis
- multiple sclerosis
- metabolic disorder
- peroneal dystrophy
- locked-in syndrome
- alternating hemiplegia
- nerve diseases ~ ALS
- paralytic shellfish poisoning
- rheumatoid arthritis of spine
- progressive bulbar paralysis
- herniated disk ~ ruptured, slipped
- paralytic bowel ~ causing bowel obstruction
- autoimmune disease ~ Guillain-Barre syndrome
- familial periodic paralyses ~ hyperkalemic, hypokalemic
- Todd’s paralysis ~ experienced by individuals with epilepsy
Sudden paralysis is usually caused by injury or stroke. Spreading paralysis may be caused by:
The distribution of paresis or paralysis offers important clues for determining the site of your nerve damage that’s causing your paralytic condition.
- paraplegia ~ lower spinal cord injury
- quadriplegia ~ shoulders or higher upper spinal cord damage
- diplegia ~ brain damage, most often caused by cerebral palsy
- fluctuating paralytic symptoms in different parts ~ caused by multiple sclerosis
- monoplegia ~ caused by isolated damage to central or peripheral nervous system
- hemiplegia ~ almost always caused by brain damage on opposite side of paralysis
- peresis or paralysis occurring in only arms and legs ~ indicates demyelinating disease
Other symptoms often accompany paralysis from any cause, including:
The likelihood of recovery from paralysis depends on the cause and the damage that’s been done. Should you notice any gradual paresis with a muscle, then notify your health care folks ASAP.