Medical Advice

What Causes Temporary Paralysis?

Paralysis is the complete loss of function of one or more muscle groups of the body. Temporary paralysis is a type of paralysis that lasts a shorter period of time, from several minutes to several months. When a person suffers from temporary paralysis, they should be consulted by a neurologist, to make a thorough evaluation in order to discover the causes. Most often, the condition that caused the temporary paralysis is treatable.


The causes of temporary paralysis

The causes of temporary paralysis may include damage to the nervous system or brain, certain rare genetic diseases, reactions to certain drugs and restriction of blood flow.

When people suffer a temporary loss of sensation or control of certain areas of the body they should be evaluated by a doctor. Also, those who are presented with certain risk factors should be informed to avoid or reduce the likelihood of developing paralysis.

There are several possible causes of temporary paralysis of which the most common are: stroke, trauma, poliomyelitis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, botulism, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Paralysis is most often caused by damage to the nervous system or brain, especially the spinal cord. Usually the muscles are not affected. In addition to the motor symptoms, characteristic to paralysis are also the sensory manifestations such as loss of sensation in the affected area.

The most common type is the temporary paralysis in which the muscles do not receive the blood flow they need (such as the situation where a person is in a sitting position or when sleeping on an arm or stand in another position, in which the blood flow to the member is restricted). In case of withdrawal of blood to the muscles, there is a temporary muscular dysfunction.

One of the causes of paralysis, for example, is natural. When people are in the stage of sleep REM (rapid eye movement), the body is temporarily paralyzed because of signals sent by the nervous system. Sometimes this system dysfunction can lead to experimentation in various stages of sleep paralysis or even while a person is awake.

Brain and nervous system injuries, including stroke, diabetic neuropathy or compression of nerves can cause temporary paralysis. Some progressive neurodegenerative diseases may be associated with periodic paralysis and can be converted into permanent problems.

Patients experiencing diminishing sensations, along with other neurological symptoms such as confusion, may need to be evaluated to see if their brain has suffered certain kinds of injury, while people who have suffered various physical trauma such as fractures or serious strokes can be diagnosed with transient paralysis caused by nerve damage.

Botulism is a rare disease but may include the manifestation of paralysis caused by a toxin that can affect the nerves, called botulinum toxin. It is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinium. It is a very dangerous and powerful toxin that is able to block the nerves function and can cause respiratory and musculoskeletal paralysis.

There are three main kinds of botulism:

• botulism resulted from food poisoning – eating foods containing botulism toxin that triggers the disease
• wound botulism – caused by a toxin produced from a wound infected with Clostridium Botulinium
• infant botulism – caused by consuming spores of bacteria, which then grow in the intestines and release the toxin.

Guillain-Barre syndrome – is a quite rare inflammatory disease of the nervous system. The pathological mechanism of the disease is the loss of peripheral nerve myelin due to acute inflammation. The cause of this inflammation is unknown. It is believed to be an autoimmune disease.

Stroke – A stroke can cause significant neurological damage. It is characterized by interruption of the blood supply of a part of the brain as a result of various factors. Thus, a part of the brain will not be adequately oxygenated and this could lead to brain cell death and the function of that part of the brain affected.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the central nervous system. In people with the disease neurons are affected and nerve fibers demyelination occurs. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a progressive condition that results in muscle atrophy. However, symptoms vary depending on which signals are interrupted, and the severity of the disease.

Polio is a viral disease accompanied by paralysis, caused by a virus called poliovirus. It enters the body orally, infecting the intestinal wall and can reach the bloodstream and central nervous system causing muscle weakness and often paralysis.

Young children who exhibit polio may suffer only minor symptoms, which can aggravate the correct diagnosis. Adults that survive polio, which has surpassed the stage of primary infection, sometimes develop more severe manifestations such as muscle weakness, extreme fatigue and even paralysis. These symptoms are specific to the post-polio syndrome.

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