NERVOUS SYSTEM – Paresis and paralysis
The brain , spinal cord and nerves seem to be extraordinarily complex and mysterious. Nerves help
us to feel / recognise all types of sensations, i.e., touch, temperature, pressure, position, movements, and all types of pain (stabbing, pricking, lightning, burning, itching, irritating, etc.). With these feelings, the brain can accommodate the environment or situation to comfort our body. With electrical impulses, they communicate, interact, interpret, coordinate and function efficiently in a very fast manner to maintain and perform all body functions and movements. Nerves work even during our sleep – for example breathing, digestion, etc.
In recent years, our mental stress and physical strain, additive habits, sleeplessness, etc., seem to be a precursor for many neurological problems. Problems arising in nerves often disable one’s life in one or the other unless otherwise properly treated.
Paresis is said to be a pre-paralytic condition or mild paralysis, where muscles seem to be veryweak, but work. One should be more cautious in this state and take treatment immediately with proper diagnosis, since paresis could progress to paralysis anytime.
Paralysis means total loss of function(s) in the affected part(s) / nerve(s). It is otherwise called Palsy. Here nerves abruptly quit their functions due to the compression or damage or diseases (polio, stroke, etc). The affected part will become flaccid without any muscle tone or strength. In general, voluntary muscles cannot be used.
Incidences – usually increase with age, blood pressure, cholesterol level and sugar level. Smoking, alcohol and drugs act as a precursor as well as fuel for the tendency. The tendency to clot, arterial diseases, previous incidence of heart attack / stroke / cerebral problems double the risk value of getting paralysis. It c ommonly occurs in legs, hands and face.
Causes – are numerous. It can be due to infection, inflammation, injury (before, during or after birth) / compression / entrapment / disease, degenerative changes, de-myelination, reduced blood supply. Also toxins (foods / drugs / sniffing insectisides or dyes or glues or metal powders / poisons [curare/cyanide/venums] / addictives), exhaution, sleeplessness, habits (alcohol / smoking), malnutrition, exposure to extreme temperatures, etc., can trigger paralyis. Rarely hysteria, panic attack , visual and auditory hallucinations can also cause paralysis (which usually last only for a few seconds – sleep paralysis ).
Types – Paralysis can occur in parts (localised) or as a whole (in a generalised manner). It can occur
in a partial manner or in complete manner. Sometimes, it is reversible and some times not.
- Localised paralysis – is restricted to the parts involved – for example – Bell’s palsy, facial palsy, vocal cord palsy, wrist drop, foot drop, paralysis of one hand, paralysis of one leg, etc.
- Generalised paralysis – Hemiplegia, Paraplegia, Quadriplegia, etc.
- Hemiplegia – weakness and paralysis of one half of the body, i.e. one leg and one hand.
- Paraplegia – weakness and paralysis of lower half of the body i.e. both the legs. Here level of lesion will be in hip.
- Quadriplegia – weakness and paralysis of all the four limbs. Abdomen and chest muscles will also suffer. Here, lesion will be above thoracic vertebra, i.e. in the neck.
The common disease conditions where paralysis occurs a re stroke (cerebrovascular accident –
haemorrhage and ischeamia in brain), p olio, Bell’s palsy, facial palsy, A mylotrophic lateral sclerosis, Multiple sclerosis (partial or complete), Brain abscess / tumour, H ydrocephalus, M yasthenia gravis, Encephalitis, Arachnoiditis, Meningomyelitis, r abies, transient ischaemic attack, leprosy, tetanus, Multiple myeloma, asphyxia, fractures (especially in spinal column or skull), spondylitis / tumours of spines, thrombosis, etc.
usually vary depending upon the place of suffering and intensity of the affection. Intensity of suffering and its persistence also varies depending upon the health status of the person, will power and treatment.
Most often complaint starts all of a sudden i.e. sufferer wakes up with paralysis. Sometimes, some people will have warning symptoms, i.e., transient ischaemic attacks – altered sensations and functions with numbness of limb(s), headache, nausea, blurred vision, black spots, blindness in one eye, etc. for a moment or up to 24 hours. It indicates that paralysis is about to happen. This forewarning signal should be taken seriously and should be treated to escape from paralysis or disability. With onset of paralysis, sufferers commonly have the following symptoms:
- Coma / loss of consciousness
- Loss of memory
- Loss of movement / functions of affected part(s)
- Numbness or altered sensations in affected part(s) in sensing pain, temperature, touch, pressure, etc.
- Loss of coordination of movement and joint sensations
- Difficulty in breathing (rarely due to paralysis of chest muscles)
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Difficulty in speech (in case of affection of left side brain especially Broca’s area)
- Bowel and bladder incontinence
Analysis of the complaints in all aspects will provide a clue about the level and extent of lesion. Commonly, t he part above the lesion will have normal functions and sensations. In case of incomplete damage, the loss of functions and sensations often vary depending upon site, position and extent of the injury.
Complications – Paraplegia and quadriplegia patients will often need of wheelchair for movement. Hemiplegia patients can move with walker or walking stick. The
bedridden patients i.e., severe paralytic sufferers, may need to use bed pan and urine can (sometimes catheter too for passing urine) with the help of others. Dependency on others and using of wheelchair, walking stick, walker, bed pan, urine can, etc., will make the suffer more depressed than the suffering by itself. Restricted movements will create lack of social activities and depression. Also sitting and lying most of the time will cause bed sores on pressure points.
Diagnosis – Nerve functions and the extent of paralysis are usually analysed with parts involved, weakness, coordination of movement(s), reflexes, muscle thickness / wasting, spasticity, alteration in sensations, etc. Doctors usually go for elicitation of reflexes, nerve conduction tests and electromyography (EMG) to diagnose the complaint and to plan for treatment. The common tests required to detect, manage / treat paralytic complaints and torule out complications are:
- Routine blood tests and urine tests
- X-ray chest and skull (in AP view and lateral view)
- Spinal radiographs (plain and contrast)
- CT / MRI scan
- Electroencephalography (EEG)
General treatment – Reassurance is the first line of treatment in all paralysis irrespective of any system of medicines. Regarding treatment, it depends upon the causative factor, symptoms and intensity of sufferings. Wait and watch approach with supplements will be the answer in most of the cases. Anyhow, one will be provided an anti-inflammatory course of medicines followed by antioxidants, vitamins and mineral supplements. In extreme cases, steroidal drugs and anti-depressants will also be prescribed to manage the situation. Also, after critical care, for rehabilitation , one will be advised / asked to depend on massage and exercises / physiotherapy for good recovery. In case of massive clots or tumour-induced paralysis, surgical option is often sought and this will provide instant and good recovery. If the paralysis is maltreated or left untreated for quite a long time, then hope of getting betterment is very little.
In Homeopathy , if sufferers happen to take care of all the warning signs in the start-up itself, then the start on of paralysis can be halted and prevented. In all systems of medicines, early intervention and treatment always provide good prognosis and good recovery. In Homeopathy also, appropriate and early treatment provides miraculous regain of functions. Delay in treatment usually ends in muscular wasting which is difficult to revive later.
Homeopathy usually supports (stimulates) our body / immune mechanism to maintain good health by tackling any sort of disease force / agent, i.e., it improves withstanding capacity, vitality to avoid disease and its recurrences. Homeopathy can terminate paralysis in its initial stage itself, if treatment is given properly at the right time with the right medicine. With the onset of symptoms, it can also stimulate the nerve to regain its normal functions.
In contrast to all other systems that approach the disease from outside, i.e. with massage, oil applications, physiotherapy, electric stimulation and surgical repair, Homeopathy is the only system which gives importance to internal treatment.Homeopathy also cares for the patient’s feelings and
sensations. The well-selected medicine prescribed for the patients to the core of the disease will certainly stimulate the suffering nerve(s) to regain normalcy and remain in endurance. Homeopathy can ensure better relief / cure from paralysis without any side-effects. Any how, unlike other complaints, paresis and paralytic cases are very difficult to treat and also take a longer time to attain the state of cure, i.e., one needs to wait even to feel the marked improvement for at least a week, most often 20-40 days: patient needs patience to feel its healing touch.
Homeopathic medicines commonly used in cases of paresis and paralysis cases are Aconite, Agaricus, Arg nit, Ars alb, Belladonna, Bryonia, Calc carb, Cannabis indica, Causticum, Chamomilla, Colocynthis, Cuprum met, Curare, Dioscorea, Gelsemium, Glonine, Gnanphalium, Hypericum, Lachesis, Lathyrus, Lycopodium, Natrum mur, Nux vom, Opium, Phytolacco, Plumbum met, Pulsatilla, Rhus tox, Sangunaria, Secale cor, Spigelia, Stramonium, Zinc met, etc. These Medicines should be taken under the advice and diagnosis of a qualified Homeopath.
Dr. S. Chidambaranathan, BHMS, MD (Homeo)
24 E. New Mahalipatti Road
Tel: +91-452-233-8833 | +91-984-319-1011 (Mob)
(Disclaimer - The contents of this column are for informational purpose only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of healthcare professional for any health problem or medical condition.)