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Paralysis - Types, Causes Treatment, Procedure And Side Effects

Last Updated: Jun 27, 2023

What is Paralysis?

Paralysis occurs because of improper muscle function, which generally results in a sensory loss in the part of the body that is affected. It is mostly a result of damage to the spinal cord; that affects the central nervous system of the body. As per global research, 1 out of 50 persons has to deal with some kind of paralysis during his lifetime.

An individual may either suffer from partial or full paralysis because of a number of causes which include- trauma, polio, nerve damage, multiple sclerosis, stroke, cerebral palsy as well as other medical issues. It is the complete muscle function loss in the affected area, thus it should not be mistaken for muscle weakness or numbness. Paralysis may be accompanied by other symptoms like- fainting spells, confusion, headaches, drooling and behavioural changes, problems with speaking or writing, nausea or vision loss.

Can you get paralysis from stress?

Paralysis due to stress is an extremely rare condition. It occurs as a temporary form of paralysis in the face, legs, or arms. Certain factors such as stress, anxiety, or mental trauma act as triggering factors and make the individuals more susceptible to temporary paralysis. This occurs periodically, thus known as periodic paralysis.

It may lead to severe weakness in the muscles, followed by an inability to move the body parts partially or completely. The reason being the brain which gets more laser-focused specifically on the stress zone, forgetting to send the signals for the movement of other body parts.

Summary: Stress acts as a triggering factor for temporary paralysis which is a rare condition. It makes the individual more susceptible to such forms of paralysis, accompanied by severe weakness in the muscles of the face, arms, or legs.

What happens during paralysis?

Paralysis is the state of inability to make voluntary muscle movements. Stroke, injuries to the brain or spinal cord maybe some of the reasons. The affected individual may be partially or completely unable to move the paralyzed parts of the body.

It may be associated with a loss of sensation, a steady loss of consciousness, muscle cramps, tingling or numb sensation in the limbs, etc.

Summary: Paralysis is accompanied by loss of movement of voluntary muscles along with muscle cramps, state of unconsciousness, tingling or numbness in the limbs, etc. It needs urgent medical care and treatment.

What are the different types of paralysis?

In Paralysis condition you unable to move certain body parts. It happens when something goes wrong between the condition of your brain and muscles. It can be complete or partial. Paralysis can occur on both sides of your body, lower half of the legs, or one side of the body.

The following are the various types of paralysis:

1. Complete Paralysis: In this condition, you do not feel any sensation in your muscles neither you can move or control your muscles.

2. Partial Paralysis: It is a condition in which you can feel some sensation in your muscles. The other terms for this type are ‘paresis’ and incomplete paralysis.

3. Localised paralysis: It affects in a particular area. This could be your face, feet, hands or vocal cords.

4. Generalised paralysis: This type can affect more than one body part at a time. This includes:

  • Monoplegia: It affects only one arm or a leg
  • Diplegia: This type of generalised, affects both the arms or legs or both sides of the face
  • Hemiplegia: This type affects just one side of the human body. This condition occurs due to a stroke.
  • Quadriplegia: Also known as tetraplegia, it affects both the arms and the legs are paralysed along with some organs.
  • Paraplegia: The body below the waist portion is paralysed in such type.

5. Locked-in syndrome: It is the rarest form of paralysis. In this type, a person loses control over every part of the body except the muscles which control their eye movements.

What are the symptoms of paralysis?

The symptoms are understandable. You would lose control over the particular or entire body part of your body. Before it traps your body, you will feel a numbing or tingling sensation in the body. You will also not be able to keep control over your muscles completely or partially if you suffer from paralysis.

What causes paralysis?

Many of the human beings are paralysed by birth and few come across the attack due to medical issue or accident. Few other causes because of which you can suffer from it are:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Post-polio syndrome
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Stroke
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Botulism


How to diagnose paralysis?

Many times it is often easy to diagnose it as you will lose control over your muscles completely or partially. To identify it for the internal body part, the medical professionals use X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans, myelography, electromyography other imaging studies.

Which doctor will treat paralysis?

The treatment of paralysis is mainly done by a neurologist. It starts with a diagnosis for which a series of different types of tests are prescribed. Those tests include CT scan, MRI, X-ray, and electromyography.

Following the diagnosis, treatment is initiated which mainly includes medications along with supportive therapies such as physiotherapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. The treatment is based upon the principle of re-establishing the connection of the brain with the body.

Summary: The treatment of paralysis is done under the supervision of a well-specialized neurologist. Starting with a proper diagnosis, the treatment plan is decided which includes supportive therapies as well.

How is paralysis treated?

The treatment will depend on the type of paralysis you suffered from as well as the symptoms you faced. According to your paralytic condition, your doctor will prescribe the treatment. Doctors generally offer treatment that aids in the restoration of the brain’s connection to the body.

Medicines and drugs are generally prescribed for a specific type. The medicines mostly help patients suffering from symptoms. For instance, muscle relaxants like baclofen and dantrolene are prescribed to help with spasms and excessive muscle pain.

Physiotherapy for paralysis: Physiotherapy also helps patients to a great extent. Depending on the kind, patients undergo physiotherapy sessions where they are made to do different exercises to help regain muscle movement. This type of treatment is slow and requires a lot of effort and strong will. But its results are most effective.

Functional Electrical Stimulation: It is known to help patients who are suffering from the lower leg as well as feet paralysis. This form of treatment uses electrical impulses to restore muscle function. Thus, the affected muscles are stimulated with electric pulses along with a vigorous exercise regime for a stated period of time. Research has shown that this type of treatment is very effective. In fact, patients with zero movements have been able to regain considerable control of their legs after undergoing this treatment, thus allowing them to lead a considerably normal lifestyle.

Can Paralysis go away on its own?

Paralysis, depending upon the cause, can be permanent or temporary. In the case of temporary paralysis such as paralysis due to stress or Bell’s Palsy, symptoms get resolved spontaneously over time without any need for treatment.

But permanent paralysis is an incurable condition. It mainly involves injuries to the spinal cord and brain, hence cannot be reversed. Such conditions require lifelong medical care and treatment involving medications and rehabilitation.

A combination of both improves the quality of life and enables the paralyzed individual to lead a healthy and normal life.

Summary: The cause of paralysis and the way it affects a particular individual is the basis of recovery from the condition. Temporary paralysis can be resolved on its own without treatment while permanent paralysis is a lifelong condition.

Who is not eligible for the paralysis treatment?

People suffering from temporary paralysis are not eligible for the treatment. Such conditions are caused due to stress or may be related to Bell’s palsy. The associated symptoms get resolved spontaneously over a certain period of time without any need for medical care or treatment.

Summary: Cases of temporary paralysis which are related to stress or Bell’s palsy can be recovered completely over a certain time period. No treatment or medical interventions are needed in such cases.

Who needs paralysis treatment?

The eligibility criteria include:

  • In the case of Functional Electrical Stimulation treatment, patients with lower leg paralysis are eligible.
  • Patients with partial and periodic paralysis may be given medications to help with symptoms.
  • Physiotherapy is only recommended for individuals who are willing to bear the pain and long sessions of exercise.

Should I go to urgent care for Paralysis?

Paralysis is mainly caused due to lack of communication between the central nervous system and nerves all over the body. Its onset may be sudden or gradual. A sudden form of paralysis is a medical emergency and needs prompt treatment.

Other associated symptoms which may be an indication of a medical emergency include the following:

  • Drooping of the face
  • Loss of memory
  • Confusion
  • Severe headache or numbness
  • State of unconsciousness
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Problem with balancing
Summary: Sudden or quick onset of paralysis indicates the state of a medical emergency. Prompt treatment of the condition is imperative as it only can help to overcome such conditions.

How long does it take to recover from Paralysis?

The duration that a person may take to recover from paralysis mainly depends upon the cause of the paralysis. When the cause of paralysis includes stroke or injuries to the brain or spinal cord, it is permanent and irreversible. It cannot be cured and stays lifelong.

The treatment and rehabilitation therapies can improve the condition of the affected individual. A time period of around 6 months or even more is required for noticeable improvements.

Summary: It usually takes around 6 months or even more for the condition of a paralyzed individual to improve. The treatment and rehabilitation therapies ensure such improvements but cannot cure the condition.

What are the side effects of paralysis treatment?

Pain is a major side effect of paralysis treatment through physiotherapy. Because the physiotherapy session is long and extensive, it can leave a patient exhausted. Undergoing physiotherapy can be quite laborious and one needs strong will and determination along with support from family and friends to undergo treatment.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

During the paralysis treatment and even after it is done a certain type of diet needs to be followed. B complex Vitamins such as niacin, Vitamin B12, and others should be a part of the diet of a paralytic patient. These vitamins improve the functioning of the nervous system. Fatty acids should also be a part of the diet as such food helps reduce inflammation. If the patient is undergoing physiotherapy, the exercises should also be continued as per the doctor’s guidance.

Is it possible to recover from paralysis?

Yes, there are possibilities to overcome your paralytic conditions. All you need is to have your medications on your right time. Please follow the doctor's instructions carefully. If he asks you to perform any kind of therapies or exercises, do not ignore it and perform it timely.

How to cure paralysis?

Paralysis is a type of condition which requires immediate medical help. You can cure it through surgical procedures, medications, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and others. You can also try yoga and other home remedies like mustard oil, acupressure, exercises, Kalonji oil etc.

How to prevent paralysis?

  • One of the reasons to suffer from paralysis is an accident. You can save yourself from the accident by using seat belts, airbags and wearing helmets.
  • Premature birth is also a big reason for getting your child paralysed. Giving him good prenatal care can help in preventing premature birth.
  • Environmental factors sometimes lead to stroke. Paying careful attention to it can help you prevent it.
  • Perform exercises on a regular basis. Keeping yourself fit will get you away from the stroke.

What is the cost of paralysis treatment in India?

The cost of paralysis treatment can range from anywhere between Rs 7000 to Rs 1 lakh.

Below are some of the home remedies for paralysis which are very effective:

  • Yoga: Anulom Vilom Asana is one of the best ways to cure paralysis. You should perform it for at least 1 hour regularly. It has a very positive result and if you perform it on a daily basis for 2 weeks, then you will start seeing the results. Along with Anulom Vilom Pranayama, you can also try Kapalbhati and Ujjayi Pranayama.
  • Mustard Oil: Take two spoons of mustard oil and apply on the affected part. This will be very effective. If there is no mustard oil available then you may also use ghee.
  • Acupressure: To get relief from it, press the ring finger on the upper part of the body. If your body is paralysed on the left side, then press left ring finger on the area.
  • Garlic: Grind 5-6 pieces of garlic pieces and add 2 tablespoons of honey. It is advised to consume the mixture for the 2 months daily. Within this period of time, you will get relief from it. You can also boil 5-6 garlic pieces in the milk and take them regularly. This will help you to bring your affected part alive and will normalise your blood pressure.
  • Black pepper: Cook 50 grams of black pepper in 250ml of mustard oil. Lukewarm the cooking oil and apply it on the affected part. This will give you relief within a short period of time.
  • Kalonji Oil: It is advised to massage lukewarm kalonji oil gently on the affected body part. Take two to three kalonji oil on a daily basis and within a month you will see a good change in your paralysis condition.

What is the best diet for paralysis person?

Basic lifestyle changing factors include stopping smoking, getting regular exercise and having an improved diet.

Best foods to prevent stroke:

  • Greens
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes
  • Coffee and green tea

Best foods that help stroke recovery:

  • Beans
  • Bananas
  • Lentils
  • Walnuts
  • Potatoes
  • Oil from pumpkin seeds
  • Flaxseeds

What to eat in Paralysis?

Paralysis is accompanied by loss of function of voluntary muscles. It affects a person both physically as well as emotionally. Dietary intake may play a role in improving the quality of life and enables a paralysed individual to cope with the condition. Certain food habits or food items preferred in such conditions may include:

  • Fresh and warm food: Fresh and warm should be preferred rather than cold food.
  • Sweet, sour, or salty foods: Salty, sour, or sweet food items should be incorporated into the daily diet.
  • Nuts: These are good options for being a rich source of antioxidants.
  • Rice and wheat: These are preferred in place of barley, rye, etc.
  • White meat: White meat can be consumed in place of red meat.
  • Carrot, beetroot, okra, and asparagus: These vegetables should be eaten on a regular basis.
Summary: Dietary intake may not play a direct role during the recovery phase of paralysis, however, they are important to improve the health and quality of life of the affected individual.

What not to eat in Paralysis?

Diet affects the health of an individual directly or indirectly. A good diet helps a paralysed individual to cope with the symptoms and enables him/her to lead a healthy and improved quality of life. But there are certain food items that may aggravate the condition. Those may include:

  • Acidic foods: These may cause stomach discomfort, hence should be avoided.
  • Bitter, stale, or pungent foods: Foods that are pungent or not fresh or must be avoided.
  • Red meats: Red meats must be avoided as they are difficult to digest.
  • Barley, millet, and rye
  • Cold food items
Summary: Certain food items are preferred to be avoided during paralysis as they are unhealthy and may have adverse effects on the health of the paralyzed individual. Red meals, acidic food items, stale or pungent foods, etc. are some of them.

Physical Exercises for the people suffering from Paralysis:

Physical exercises are an important part of the rehabilitation therapies needed during the treatment of paralysis. Since the affected individual can no longer perform any active physical activities, passive forms of exercise are preferred in such conditions.

These help to increase the range of motion in joints, enhance blood circulation and promote better transmission of impulses between muscles and the brain or spinal cord.

Physical exercises to be preferred during paralysis may involve:

  • Side leg lifts
  • Knees to chest
  • Rotation of ankles
  • Hamstring stretch
  • Ankle pulls
  • Knee extensions
  • Seated elliptical
  • Seated marches
Summary: Physical exercises are important as a part of rehabilitative therapy during the recovery phase of the paralysis. Passive forms of exercise are preferred for the affected individuals as they can’t bear any physical exertion.

Which is the best medicine for Paralysis?

Medicines are a part of the treatment of paralysis along with rehabilitation services. Important medications to be preferred include:

  • Methylprednisolone: This is well-known to reduce the inflammation or edema associated with the spinal cord. It also minimizes the consequences of any secondary damage.
  • Nebivolol: It works to control abnormal enzymatic activities during the condition.
  • Amitriptyline: It effectively relieves neuropathic pain.
  • Pregabalin: It also works to relieve the pain associated with neuropathy in such conditions.
Summary: Medicines are a part of the symptomatic treatment of paralysis as there are no medicines known till now that can cure the condition. They can only relieve or minimize the effects of the symptoms.

Are the results of the paralysis treatment permanent?

The treatment of paralysis mainly involves the application of medications and rehabilitation therapies. In cases of partial as well as temporary paralysis, complete recovery is possible over a certain time period.

Results of the treatment are permanent in such cases, while in the case of complete or permanent paralysis, the results are not permanent. Such cases cannot be cured and stay lifelong.

Summary: The results of the treatment are permanent in the case of temporary or partial paralysis, while it is not so in the cases of complete or permanent paralysis.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Ayurvedic treatments for paralysis and homoeopathic medicine for paralysis are available. For instance, Akarkara root mixed with mahau oil and massaged on the affected area can help relax muscles to a great extent.


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Written ByDr. Arun Sharma MBBS,MS - General Surgery,MCh - Neuro SurgeryNeurology
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