Periodic Paralysis Syndrome: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/20/2021

Periodic paralysis syndrome is a rare group of genetic disorders that lead to sudden attacks of short-term muscle weakness, stiffness, or paralysis.

Signs and symptoms of periodic paralysis syndrome include short-term attacks of weakness or paralysis of muscles. These attacks may affect the whole body or just one or two limbs at a time. Other associated symptoms can include

  • tingling in the muscles,
  • muscle pain after exercise,
  • cramping, and
  • permanent weakness later in life.

The acute attacks can vary in frequency from minutes to days, depending upon the specific type of defect that is present.

Causes of periodic paralysis syndrome

All the forms of this condition are caused by genetic defects in ion channels, which regulate how minerals enter and leave the muscle cells.

Other periodic paralysis syndrome symptoms and signs

  • Cramping
  • Muscle Pain After Exercise
  • Paralysis of Muscles
  • Permanent Weakness Later in Life
  • Short-Term Attacks of Weakness
  • Tingling in the Muscles

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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.