Paralysis refers to temporary or permanent loss of voluntary muscle movement in a body part or region. People can experience localized, generalized, partial, or complete paralysis. Stroke, spinal cord injury, and cerebral palsy can cause paralysis. Paralysis is the loss of voluntary muscle function in one or more parts of the body as a result of damage to the nervous system. The nervous system has two parts: The central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system (PNS), which contains the nerves outside of the CNS. The nerve cells, or neurons, in the PNS serve several functions. Motor neurons regulate muscle movement. Sensory neurons send information — about pressure, pain, and temperature— to the CNS. Paralysis occurs when nerve signals are interrupted as a result of damage to the nerves, spinal cord, or brain. Many people with paralysis do not regain full mobility or sensation in the affected area. However, physical therapy, mobility devices, and social and emotional support can help improve the quality of life.
Signs & symptoms
Symptoms vary, depending on the type and cause of the issue.
The most common symptom is the loss of muscle function in one or more parts of the body.
Other symptoms that may accompany paralysis include:
- numbness or pain in the affected muscles
- muscle weakness
- visible signs of muscle loss (muscle atrophy)
- involuntary spasms or twitches
Some people are born paralyzed. Muscle weakness and paralysis result from damage to the nervous system, which any of the health problems below can also cause.
- spinal cord injury
- cerebral palsy
- multiple sclerosis
- post-polio syndrome
- traumatic brain injury
Most diseases that cause paralysis can be divided into two main groups depending on whether there is, structural alterations in nervous or muscular tissue, or altered metabolism in neuromuscular functioning. Some act systemically and affect one of the three elements in the motor system (upper neuron, lower neuron, or muscle) more or less extensively and exclusively. More often, however, one element or neighbouring portions of two of the three elements are involved over a limited extent by a single focal lesion.
Nervous Tissue Damage
The most common cause of hemiplegia is damage to the corticospinal tracts and associated motor tracts in one hemisphere of the brain from obstruction (blood clot or thrombosis) or rupture (cerebral haemorrhage) of a major cerebral artery. Brain tumour is another but less common cause of hemiplegia. When the lesion is in the left hemisphere of a right-handed person, the resulting right hemiplegia is often associated with one of the various forms of aphasia, the inability to sound words, to write, or to read.
Bilateral hemiplegia with pseudobulbar palsy results from diffuse, bilateral brain diseases such as severe cerebral arteriosclerosis or cerebral vascular syphilis.
The spinal cord is rarely the site of vascular obstruction or haemorrhage. Common causes of damage to the corticospinal tracts in the cord include deformities of the spinal column from bone and joint disease and from fracture or dislocation of the spine, spinal cord tumours, multiple sclerosis, strokes, and a number of inflammatory and degenerative diseases associated with pernicious anaemia.
Muscle Tissue Damage
Of the diseases that attack lower motor neurons and result in paralysis with muscular wasting, the most common are poliomyelitis and polyneuritis, the former affecting the cell bodies or the bulbar and spinal motor neurons and the latter affecting their peripheral processes. Bell’s palsy is a peripheral neuritis affecting the facial nerve and resulting in paralysis of all the muscles of one side of the face.
Diseases that result in paralysis through primary changes in muscle tissue are fewer. Of the conditions belonging in this category, muscular dystrophy is one of the few that are apparently confined to the muscles. Muscular dystrophy is a hereditary disease that results in paralysis through primary changes in muscle tissue. It is characterized by progressive, symmetrical muscular weakness and atrophy. Pseudo hypertrophic muscular dystrophy is a rare variety of the disease that begins before puberty, is more common in males, and usually progresses to severe disability within a few years. The other types of dystrophy, in general, begin in adolescence or young adulthood, equally affect males and females, and progress more slowly.
Muscular weakness without structural alteration in nerve or muscle tissue may be a symptom of disturbances in metabolism arising from a wide variety of causes. Among such conditions are diseases of the endocrine glands, certain intoxications, and several metabolic defects. The most common example is myasthenia gravis. Myasthenia gravis is characterized by muscular weakness, without atrophy, which may be mild or severe and either generalized or restricted to a few muscle groups. Muscles innervated by cranial nerves are usually affected. Weakness results from a localized defect in the chemical processes involved in the transmission of impulses from motor nerve endings to muscle fibres.
Myelography or electromyography
In most of the cases, paralysis isn’t curable. But with a teamwork and treatment, symptoms can be managed and quality of life will be improved.
Underlying cause of the paralysis should also be considered while addressing the signs and symptoms. Treatment options include:
- surgery or possible amputation
- physical therapy
- occupational therapy
- mobility supporting devices, such as wheelchairs, braces, mobile scooters, or other devices
- Nerve transfer surgery
- medications, such as Botox or muscle relaxers, in spastic paralysis
Many people with paralysis never regain mobility or sensation in the affected areas of their bodies. But assistive technologies, therapeutic interventions, or other strategies can improve the quality of life.
Paralysis can cause immediate and long-term serious complications including death. Some of them include:
- Problems with breathing, blood circulation and heart functions
- Organ failure and tissue damage
- Damage to muscles, bones and joints
- Skin rashes, wounds and pressure sores
- Blood clots in extremities
- Urine and bowel incontinence
Disease & Ayurveda
Causative factors for the vitiation of Vaata
It can happen in two ways.
- Aavarana – When the kapha gets vitiated or aama present, the channels in the body get obstructed. It is called as srotorodha. It causes obstruction to the normal path of the movement of Vaata and makes it move in abnormal paths. In other words, it affects all types of circulation and communication within the human body.
- Dhaatukshaya – In degenerative conditions like old age, poor nourishment, chronic diseases, fasting, stress etc., body tissues undergo excess depletion and the vitiated Vaata gets into the void spaces and causes the disease.
Due to the causative factors the vitiated Vaata starts travelling in abnormal paths in the body. When it catches half of the body, and makes the Siras & snayus depleted, the other half of the body gets weak & motionless.
Ardhakaaya akarmaya – one side of the body becomes weak & motionless.
New and uncomplicated cases can be cured with difficulty (kricchrasadhya)
Others are incurable (asadhya)
The Ayurveda treatment for pakshaghata depends basically whether it happened only due to Vaata or associated with other doshas. Treatment differs also for Kapha or Pitta as the associated doshas. Patients’s age, strength, body constitution and many other factors also should be considered in treatment.
Ayurvedic treatment for Paksaghata consists of sodhanatherapies, mainly Virechana in physically and mentally strong patient. It is not done in weak patients as it will cause more Vaatakopa and complications.
In pakshaghata with associated Kapha, sodhana therapy is in the form of both Vamana and virechana.
In Pakshaghata with associated Pitta, sodhana therapy is in the form of Virechana.
In suitable Pakshaghata cases, both asthapanavasti and anuvasanavasti are done for most benefits as they are the best sodhana therapies for pacifying Vaata.
Aamapaachana in needed cases
Praadesikadhara and pindasweda
Nasyam, Vamanam, asthapanavasti and anuvasanavasti are done in suitable cases
Commonly used medicines
No home remedy has proven to cure paralysis. But a healthy diet, lifestyle and exercise according to the condition will help improve the quality of life.
- To be avoided
Heavy meals and difficult to digest foods – cause indigestion.
Junk foods- cause disturbance in digestion and reduces the bioavailability of the medicine
Carbonated drinks – makes the stomach more acidic and disturbed digestion
Refrigerated and frozen foods – causes weak and sluggish digestion by weakening Agni (digestive fire)
Milk and milk products – increase kapha, cause obstruction in channels and obesity
Curd – causes vidaaha and thereby many other diseases
- To be added
Light meals and easily digestible foods
Green gram, soups, sesame oil.
Freshly cooked and warm food processed with cumin seeds, ginger, black pepper, ajwain etc
Protect yourself from extreme climate changes.
Better to avoid exposure to excessive sunlight wind rain or dust.
Maintain a regular food and sleep schedule.
Avoid holding or forcing the urges like urine, faeces, cough, sneeze etc.
Avoid sedentary lifestyle. Be active.
Regular stretching and mild cardio exercises are advised in suitable condition if the patient is comfortable. Also, specific yogacharya for ech patient, considering the condition is recommended.
Regular exercise helps improve bioavailability of the medicine and food ingested and leads to positive health.
Yoga can maintain harmony within the body and with the surrounding system.
Some yoga exercises which help regulate the movement of Vaata and physical mobility are:
chair exercises for stroke patients
All the exercises and physical exertions must be decided and done under the supervision of a medical expert only.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, United States. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please consult your GP before the intake.
Dr. Rajesh Nair, the co-founder and chief consultant of Ayurvedaforall.Com, is a graduate of prestigious Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda College (affiliated with the University of Calicut), Kerala, India. Additionally, he holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Yoga Therapy from Annamalai University.
Dr. Nair offers consultation at two busy clinics in and around Haripad, Alleppey, Kerala, the southern state famous worldwide for authentic ayurvedic treatment and physicians. While offering consultation on all aspects of ayurvedic treatments Dr. Nair has a special interest in Panchkarma, Yoga, and Massage.
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