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n. muscle weakness that varies in its extent, its severity, and the degree of spasticity or flaccidity according to the nature of the underlying disease and its distribution in the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, or muscles. See flaccid; spastic paralysis. See also diplegia; hemiplegia; paraplegia; poliomyelitis. —paralytic adj.
Paralysis, or PALSY, is loss of muscular power due to some disorder of the NERVOUS SYSTEM. Weakness – rather than total movement loss – is sometimes described as paresis. Paralysis may be temporary or permanent and may be accompanied by loss of feeling.
Paralysis due to brain disease The most common form is unilateral palsy, or HEMIPLEGIA, generally arising from cerebral HAEMORRHAGE, THROMBOSIS or EMBOLISM affecting the opposite side of the BRAIN. If all four limbs and trunk are affected, the paralysis is called quadraplegia; if both legs and part of the trunk are affected, it is called paraplegia. Paralysis may also be divided into ?accid (?oppy limbs) or spastic (rigid).
In hemiplegia the cause may be an abscess, haemorrhage, thrombosis or TUMOUR in the brain. CEREBRAL PALSY or ENCEPHALITIS are other possible causes. Sometimes damage occurs in the parts of the nervous system responsible for the ?ne control of muscle movements: the cerebellum and basal ganglion are such areas, and lack of DOPAMINE in the latter causes PARKINSONISM.
Damage or injury Damage to or pressure on the SPINAL CORD may paralyse muscles supplied by nerves below the site of damage. A fractured spine or pressure from a tumour may have this e?ect. Disorders affecting the cord which can cause paralysis include osteoarthritis of the cervical vertebrae (see BONE, DISORDERS OF), MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS), MYELITIS, POLIOMYELITIS and MENINGITIS. Vitamin B12 de?ciency (see APPENDIX 5: VITAMINS) may also cause deterioration in the spinal cord (see also SPINE AND SPINAL CORD, DISEASES AND INJURIES OF).
Neuropathies are a group of disorders, some inherited, that damage the peripheral nerves, thus affecting their ability to conduct electrical impulses. This, in turn, causes muscle weakness or paralysis. Among the causes of neuropathies are cancers, DIABETES MELLITUS, liver disease, and the toxic consequences of some drugs or metals – lead being one example.
Disorders of the muscles themselves – for example, muscular dystrophy (see MUSCLES, DISORDERS OF – Myopathy) – can disturb their normal working and so cause partial or complete paralysis of the part(s) affected.
Treatment The aim of treatment should be to remedy the underlying cause – for example, surgical removal of a displaced intervertebral
disc or treating diabetes mellitus. Sometimes the cause cannot be recti?ed but, whether treatable or not, physiotherapy is essential to prevent joints from seizing up and to try to maintain some tone in muscles that may be only partly affected. With temporary paralysis, such as can occur after a STROKE, physiotherapy can retrain the sufferers to use their muscles and joints to ensure mobility during and after recovery. Patients with permanent hemiplegia, paraplegia or quadraplegia need highly skilled nursing care, rehabilitative support and resources, and expert help to allow them, if possible, to live at home.
Complete or partial loss of controlled movement caused by the inability to contract 1 or more muscles. Paralysis may be temporary or permanent. There may also be loss of feeling in affected areas.
Paralysis of one half of the body is called hemiplegia; paralysis of all 4 limbs and the trunk is called quadriplegia. Paraplegia is paralysis of both legs and sometimes part of the trunk. Paralysis may be flaccid, causing floppiness, or spastic, causing rigidity.
Paralysis can be caused by brain disorders such as stroke, brain tumour, brain abscess, or brain haemorrhage. Some types of paralysis are caused by damage to parts of the nervous system (such as the cerebellum and basal ganglia) concerned with fine control of movement. Paralysis can also be caused by damage to or pressure on the spinal cord as a result of injury or disc prolapse. Diseases affecting the spinal cord (such as multiple sclerosis and poliomyelitis) and muscle disorders (such as muscular dystrophy) may also cause paralysis. Nerve disorders, called neuropathies, may cause varying degrees of paralysis.
The underlying cause is treated, if possible, and physiotherapy is used to prevent joints from becoming locked and to strengthen muscles and joints.
Loss of ability to move a limb or the whole body. Flaccid paralysis (with wasting of muscle) is due to lesion of a spinal or peripheral nerve. Spastic paralysis is due to “stroke” in the brain. Diagnosis: wasting follows damage to a surface nerve. In damage of the spinal cord there will be no wasting but loss of use of muscles.
Treatment. Depends upon the cause. Though cure is impossible, some herbs tend to prevent stiffening, and ameliorate symptoms. Others may assist function as in paralysis ileus (paralysis of muscles of the intestinal walls) where Ispaghula seeds provide bulk and promote peristalsis. To strengthen the nervous system: Oats. Circulatory stimulants and nerve restoratives are indicated. Nettle tea is helpful. Limbs have regained temporary sensation on being beaten with the herb; others have lost rheumatism. Virginia Snake root had its reputation among early American Eclectics.
For a mild or temporary condition:– Teas: Nettles. Yerbe Mate.
Other alternatives:– Tablets/capsules. Prickly Ash. Black Cohosh.
Formula. Equal parts: Gentian, Ginger, Ginkgo.
Dose – Liquid extracts: 1-2 teaspoons. Tinctures: 1-3 teaspoons. Powders: 750mg (three 00 capsules or half a teaspoon). Thrice daily.
Cystitis: to relieve: Bearberry or Cranesbill tea.
Practitioner. Tincture Nux vomica: 10 drops in 100ml water. Dose: one teaspoon every two hours (temporary).
Thomson School. 1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper mixed with 2 teaspoons Lobelia herb or seeds. Half a teaspoon to each cup boiling water; infuse 15 minutes. Half a cup 2-3 times daily with honey.
Supplements: B-complex, B6, B12, E. Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc.
For other paralytic conditions see: MOTOR NEURONE DISEASE, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, MYASTHENIA GRAVIS, POLYMYELITIS, STROKE, SYRINGOMYELIA.
Treatment of severe nerve conditions should be supervised by neurologists and practitioners whose training prepares them to recognise serious illness and to integrate herbal and supplementary intervention safely into the treatment plan.