Paralysis is experienced as a loss of muscle function in some or all of the body. There are varying degrees of paralysis that you can experience; for example, Bell’s Palsy is a condition that affects the facial muscles. Palsy means paralysis of voluntary movement in that part of the body. The lack of clarity on the extent of spread and the degree of seriousness means the disease can be temporary or permanent.
Let’s understand the importance of the symptoms of paralysis and possible measures you need to take when you spot some.
What Are the Five Types of Paralysis?
The five different types of paralysis are categorized on the way they affect the body.
- Quadriplegia: Affects all body limbs- typically from the neck down. It can be a slow-progressing kind of paralysis.
- Paraplegia: Paralysis of legs but not arms- is a condition connected to injuries and needs immediate medical help.
- Monoplegia: Affects one limb on one side of the body.
- Diplegia: Affects both legs or both arms.
- Hemiplegia: Affects one side of the body- either left or right limbs.
What Is the Main Cause of Paralysis?
Paralysis is the loss of muscle function in a part of the body. Its cause can be various factors, such as disease, trauma, or nerve damage. The most common cause of paralysis is stroke, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. This can damage the nerves that control movement, resulting in paralysis. Other causes of paralysis include spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis. In many cases, the real cause of paralysis is unknown. However, treatments available can help improve muscle function and quality of life for people who have this condition.
When something connecting the message system of the body fails, your body breaks down its nervous functioning. Paralysis can occur on one side or both sides of the body. Most paralysis occurs due to a cardiac/brain stroke or a spinal injury, as the spinal cord is the stem of all neural connections. Some of the other causes of paralysis include:
- Nervous system disorders
- Autoimmune diseases like Guillain-Barre Syndrome
- Bell’s Palsy – centered towards facial paralysis and facial paralysis symptoms
- Polio – once eradicated but recently resurfaced in the United States
What Are the Symptoms of Paralysis?
Diagnosis of permanent paralysis is often seen as a life-term illness. The disease is often irreversible. Paralysis can happen for any part of your body where you lose motor control over that part of your body. While paralysis can start suddenly, it is subdivided into the paralyzed body part.
Symptoms of paralysis include:
- Stiffness and muscle spasms: caused by spastic paralysis
- Unnatural floppiness in the body: a side-effect of flaccid paralysis
- Numbness or pain in certain parts of the body: showing the malfunction of the nervous system in that area.
Paralysis is described by the causation of muscular degeneration, flaccid paralysis when the muscles shrink and become flabby. And spastic paralysis is when the muscles tighten and cause involuntary jerks and spasms due to nerves not having the necessary control.
What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Paralysis?
Sleep paralysis is not connected to paralysis in the medical sense. Research has stated how the body transitions through sleep and sleep paralysis is simply the glitch between the stages of sleep. While sleep paralysis isn’t a medical emergency, and you don’t need to rush to the ER to be treated, familiarity with the sleep paralysis symptoms can help you find some answers and peace of mind. The symptoms can be subjective but usually have the following:
- Inability to move or speak, especially when you are woken up by your body in the middle of the night, usually for 2 minutes.
- The psychological feeling of being pressed down, especially something you can’t see, pushes you down.
- Feel like someone is in the room you’re resting in, and you can’t move to see them.
- Feeling immense uncontrollable fear connected to hallucinations and paranormal beliefs.
Other secondary symptoms might include:
- Difficulty in breathing and inability to control your breathing pace.
- Headaches and waking up in a sweat due to paranoia.
- Episodes that often end on their own or when someone touches you.
What Are Some Symptoms of Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis?
This kind of paralysis comes from extreme drops in the potassium level in the patient’s blood. Potassium is one of the micronutrients your body needs and is often neglected when making a balanced diet. The following symptoms occur when a hypokalemic periodic paralysis happens:
- Cardiac arrhythmia due to poor blood quality.
- Respiratory muscle paralysis causes a lack of oxygen in the blood throughout the body.
- Long-lasting muscle weakness, especially when the patient has an active lifestyle- sudden loss of muscle control follows as the nervous connection worsens over time.
Hypokalemic periodic paralysis symptoms cause extreme muscle weakness and are typically spotted in children and teens. The attacks cannot be predicted but are triggered by factors like vigorous exercise, viral illnesses and certain medications.
What Are the Early Signs of Paralysis?
Paralysis is one of the most life-changing illnesses that can cascade effects on your quality of life. Early signs often don’t present themselves, but sometimes getting a medical checkup done can help you identify them earlier than when it’s too late. The following signs are the ones to have an eye out for when you feel you could be at risk of a paralysis attack:
- Sudden weakness on one side of your arm and weakness combined with slurred speech.
These symptoms are connected to a mini-stroke caused by compounding mental stresses.
- Sudden pains on either side of the face, combined with a lack of motor control.
They are typically linked to earache or face paralysis symptoms. These are pre-emptive signs of Bell’s Palsy.
- Paralysis during the recovery phase after an accident or an injury.
A head injury or a spinal cord injury can severely impact the nervous system, often leading to aftershock effects like partial paralysis.
- Paralysis that can originate from a tick bite- Lyme disease.
This kind of paralysis can be a silent killer and show up only weeks, months and years after the parasite attacks.
How Do You Stop Paralysis?
There is no one answer to the question of how to stop paralysis. This is because paralysis can be caused by many different factors, including injuries, illnesses, and congenital disabilities. In some cases, paralysis may be momentary, while in others, it may be permanent. Treatment for paralysis will vary based on the cause of the condition. For example, if an injury causes paralysis, physical therapy may be used to help the individual regain movement. In cases where an illness, such as polio, causes paralysis, treatments may be used to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. There is no cure for paralysis, but with proper treatment and support, many people can lead full and active lives.
Prevention is always better than cure; spinal injuries are a massive contributor to paralysis cases. Lower your chances by taking these key steps:
- Always wear a seatbelt while you are traveling in a car.
- Always check water depths in pools and water bodies when diving.
- Don’t drive after consuming alcohol, and don’t ride with someone under the influence.
- Always take extra precautions while participating in sports- gymnastics and gym have a history of spinal risks. Use additional matting and cushioning wherever you can.
How Do You Treat Paralysis?
The cure for paralysis depends on the nerve damage’s cause and extent. While some patients who have gone through a minor brain stroke can regain sensation and relearn motor skills, it is not the same for someone who has met a life-altering accident.
Possible treatments for paralysis are:
- Surgery and amputation of the affected area
- Physical therapy and physiotherapy
- Spinal cord implant- an electric implant that can boost the strength of signals between the brain and the legs.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with paralysis, it is essential to seek medical attention right away. Paralysis can result from various factors and should be diagnosed by a doctor. Symptoms can vary depending on the cause, so it is indisputably crucial to get an accurate diagnosis. If you have any concerns or questions about paralysis, please reach out to your doctor for more information.