Paralysis is the loss or impairment of voluntary muscular power. Paralysis can result from either diseases involving changes in the makeup of nervous or muscular tissue or those that are the result of metabolic disturbances that interfere with the function of nerves or muscles. Depending upon the cause, paralysis may affect a specific muscle group or region of the body, or a larger area may be involved. When only one side of the body is affected, the condition is known as hemiplegia. In other instances, both sides of the body may suffer the effects, leading to diplegia or bilateral hemiplegia. When only the lower limbs are affected by paralysis, it is called paraplegia. When all four limbs are affected, it is referred to as quadriplegia. The term palsy is sometimes used to refer to the loss of muscle power in a body part.
Other causes of paralysis
- Alternating Hemiplegia
- Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP)
- Familial Periodic Paralysis
- Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Tick Paralysis
- Todd's Paralysis
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.Next Article
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Causes of Paralysis
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ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Symptoms, Causes, Life Expectancy
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease) is a neurological disease that progresses rapidly. The disease attacks the nerve cells responsible for the control of voluntary muscles. Early symptoms include cramping, twitching, or stiffness of the muscles; slurred nasal speech; difficulty swallowing or chewing, and muscle weakness in an arm or leg. Currently, the cause of ALS is not known. ALS is a fatal disease. No cure has been found for ALS, however, the drug riluzole (Rilutek) is FDA approved, and this drug reduces the damage to motor neurons by decreasing the release of glutamate.
Bell's Palsy (Facial Nerve Problems) Paralysis Causes and Treatments
Bell's palsy is one type of facial nerve paralysis. The 7th cranial nerve controls the muscles of the face, and although scientists do not know the exact cause of Bell's palsy, they think it may be due to nerve damage from an infection, for example, the flu, common cold viruses, and more serious infections like meningitis. The symptoms of Bell's palsy vary from person to person, but can include mild weakness to total paralysis, dry eye, dry mouth, eyelid drooping, drooling, mouth drooping, dry mouth, changes in taste, and excessive tearing in one eye. People with Bell's palsy usually don't need medical treatment, however, drugs like steroids, for example, prednisone seem to be effective in reducing swelling and inflammation are used when medical is necessary. Most people with Bell's palsy begin to recover within two weeks after the initial onset of symptoms. Full recovery may take three to six months.
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Brain Damage: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
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Brain Lesions (Lesions on the Brain)
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Cauda Equina Syndrome
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Guillain-Barré Syndrome is an autoimmune disease of the nervous system due to damage to the myelin sheath around nerves. It is the most acquired nerve disease (neuropathy) and usually follows a virus infection but can also be associated with immunizations, surgery, and childbirth. The cause is unknown but appears to be related to autoimmune reaction. Symptoms include weakness beginning in the legs and progressing upward, lost reflexes, and in severe cases breathing can be affected. Patients can expect a slow but progressive recovery over several months maintaining vital functions and passively exercising the muscles. Plasmapheresis (removing toxic substances from the blood) has been shown to improve outcome and shorten the disease as well as intravenous immunoglobulin.
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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Life Expectancy
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Spina Bifida and Anencephaly (Neural Tube Defects)
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Ticks are known transmitters of disease to humans and animals. Tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Q fever, tularemia, babesiosis, and Southern tick-associated rash illness. Infected ticks spread disease once they've bitten a host, allowing the pathogens in their saliva and mouth get into the host's skin and blood. Tick bites are typically painless, but the site of the bite may later itch, burn, turn red, and feel painful. Individuals allergic to tick bites may develop a rash, swelling, shortness of breath, numbness, or paralysis. Tick bite treatment involves cleaning and applying antibiotic cream.
West Nile Virus
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