General or Other | General Practice | Paralysis (Symptom)
Paralysis is defined as the loss or impairment of voluntary muscle strength. In general, diseases that cause paralysis can be divided into two groups: those that involve changes in the composition of nerve or muscle tissue, or those that are the result of metabolic alterations in the function of the nerves or muscles.
Some diseases affect the whole body, while others affect only a specific area of the body. When only one side of the body is involved there is a condition known as hemiplegia. In other cases both sides of the body can suffer the effects that lead to bilateral hemiplegia or diplegia. When only the lower extremities are affected by the paralysis that is called paraplegia. When all four limbs are affected, this is known as tetraplegia.
There are many potential causes of paralysis. The two most common causes of paralysis are stroke and trauma, particularly to the nervous system or the brain. Certain diseases or afflictions, such as poliomyelitis, peroneal dystrophy, spina bifida, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Bell’s palsy, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and multiple sclerosis may also cause paralysis to occur. Botulism, paralytic shellfish poisoning, and certain types of poisons, particularly those that directly affect the nervous system, may also lead to paralysis.