Treatment, Symptoms, Causes of Paralysis in Arms and Legs

Treatment, Symptoms, Causes of Paralysis in Arms and Legs

Paralysis is the sensory loss which leads to muscle dysfunction of one or more muscles. Paralysis is mostly caused by damage to the nervous system especially the spinal cord which is one of the most delicate parts of the body. In most cases, paralysis can be permanent or temporary.

Temporary paralysis is mostly caused by muscle weakness which is referred to as Periodic Paralysis. In most cases, temporary paralysis is inherited and that gene is passed down to the family members. So in order to know how to treat and prevent it, first of all, we have to look at what are causes of paralysis in arm and legs.

Causes of Paralysis in Arms

Paralysis is often caused by damage in the nervous system, mostly the injury of the spinal cord. Other causes may include stroke, a trauma which includes injury of the nervous system, poliomyelitis, cerebral palsy, peripheral neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, botulism, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis and Guillan-Barre syndrome.
Short lived paralysis of the arms may also occur when one is sleeping and when the nervous system is dysregulated it leads to paralysis when one is using the arms. Drugs such as curare can lead to paralysis.

Symptoms of Arm Paralysis

Paralysis of the arms is commonly known as Quadriplegia.

  • The person with the paralysis cannot feel when something touches them.
  • The paralyzed arm cannot feel heat or cold. Numbness is very common due to weather changes.
  • The paralyzed arm does not feel pain.
  • The vision of the person suffering from paralysis has eyesight problems such as blurred vision.

Paralysis is mostly caused by stroke or body parts injuries for example when one gets an injury of the spinal cord, neck injury and diseases that affect the human’s body nervous system such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

If the body is paralyzed depending on the reason for the paralysis to occur, but mostly it happens when one of the following circumstances do happen

  • When the brain cannot transmit signals to the arms due to the injuries of the brain
  • When the brain has the ability to still feel contact and other feelings in the arms but cannot react fully well because of the spinal cord injuries
  • When there is nervous system destruction which may be caused by conditions such as someone suffering from diabetes which may lead to nerves of the arm to stop functioning. The arms may still move around but having very minimized feelings. This causes moving the arms a heavy task and a complete loss of use of the arms to do work or reduce the ability all the same to do any kind of work.
  • When the brain cannot at all transmit or get signals to the arms due to the injury of the spinal cord

Types Of Paralysis That Affect The Arms

Hemiplegia Paralysis

  • Hemiplegia Paralysis of the arms especially on the side of the body and its main cause is the Cerebral Palsy.
  • With this type of paralysis, the scale of paralysis differs in every person and changes over time.
  • It starts with a sensation of random piercings feelings all over the arms like if one is being pierced by pins or needles, which leads to loss of strength of the arms muscles and eventually causing permanent paralysis of the arms.
  • Hemiplegia may not always be permanent and the general diagnosis will depend on management of the condition such as bodily and work-related treatment.

Quadriplegia Paralysis

  • Quadriplegia also known as Tetraplegia and paralyzes body parts below the neck especially the arms, that is the upper limbs
  • Typically with this type of paralysis of the arms the scale of loss of ability and use of the arms varies in each person.
  • It’s due to injury of the brain, suffering from a stroke or a short-lived compressing of the spinal cord nerves, tumors of the spinal cord and the brain, disastrous damage of the nervous system in the whole of the body overdosing on drugs or alcohol.

Symptoms of Legs Paralysis

The scale of paralysis of the legs differs from one person to another and may adjust with the passing of time.

  • It starts with a sensation of random piercings feelings all over the legs like if one is being pierced by pins or needles.
  • Loss of strength of the legs muscles and eventually causing permanent paralysis of the Legs.
  • Swelling of the legs.
  • Little or minimized feelings of the sense of touch of the legs.

Types Of Paralysis That Affect The Legs

Hemiplegia – Leads to paralysis of any leg on the similar side of the paralyzed body.

Paraplegia- Occurs when areas below the waist are affected by paralysis and this usually leads to paralysis of both legs.

Quadriplegia – Also affects the legs when affecting any parts below the neck.

Monoplegia – Occurs when only one leg is paralyzed.

Paralysis in Arms and Legs Treatment

A treatment plan for paralysis of both arms and legs will depend on the underlying cause of the paralysis, as well the symptoms experienced.

  1. Physical therapy is the one step in the process of recovery of function. Physical therapy for the paralyzed individual focuses on teaching the critical skills needed to move safely in the environment they now find themselves in.
  2. Exercise therapy focuses on the recovery of function. The more time clients participate in intensive, full body exercise, the more strength, and independence they see.
  3. Physiotherapy helps to reduce the risk of injury or illness in the future and helps people with a wide range of health conditions, including problems affecting the bones, joints and soft tissue, brain or nervous system, heart and circulation, lungs and breathing
  4. Pushing Boundaries Training System is individualized to meet each client’s needs and goals and is designed to incrementally reeducate damaged nervous systems to reclaim movement, increase function and independence, and eventually improve the lives of those living with paralysis.


When one part of the body gets paralyzed it may seem the end of the road to the patient. But the good news is that getting paralyzed does not mean that life has to stop, with the right therapy the patient can still live normal just like other people. We say prevention is better than cure one should try to avoid the thing, for example, Curare which is said to be one of the causes of paralysis in arms and legs. Let the paralyzes not keep you indoors.

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad