Paralysis: Meaning, Type, Causes & Symptoms



Paralysis means loss of muscular power due to interference with the nervous system. When the muscular power gets weak due to some problem in the nervous system, the term applied is paralysis. The loss of muscles movement such as hand muscles, leg muscles, facial muscles, etc. leads to paralysis in that particular region. A paralyzed person loses the capacity of voluntary movement and is accompanied by numbness, or loss of sensation, in the affected part. Due to this, the person does not feel any pain or climatic changes like heat, cold, etc.


Various technical terms are given depending on where the paralysis has occurred. They are as follows:-

  • Monoplegia, in this only one limb – hand or leg – is affected
  • Diplegia, in this both the limbs are affected
  • Paraplegia, in this both the trunk and the legs are affected
  • Hemiplegia, in this only one side of the body is affected
  • Quadriplegia, in this the trunk and all the four limbs are affected


Paralysis is caused due to the improper functioning of the central nervous system, i.e. the brain and the spinal cord, or due to the improper functioning of the peripheral nervous system, i.e. the nerves. The reasons why these nerve impairments might take place which lead to paralysis are given below

  • Strokes are the main cause of paralysis. Strokes are the sudden loss of function of a particular portion of the brain.
  • Tumors in the brain or the spinal region can cause paralysis.
  • Multiple sclerosis is a chronic ailment that causes the damage to the mucilaginous sheath that covers the nuclear sheath and this may lead to paralysis.
  • Cerebral palsy that occurs in babies during their birth also leads to paralysis.
  • Trauma or direct injuries could result into internal bleeding which affects the central nervous system and lead to paralysis.
  • Slipped Disk, herniated disk, spondolysis and other neurodegenerative diseases may also lead to paralysis.

The common symptoms of paralysis are:-

  • The person cannot feel when something touches him/her or even when someone else touches him/her.
  • The person cannot feel heat or cold. Numbness to weather is common.
  • The person also does not feel pain in the affected part.
  • An impairment of vision is also seen.