Paralysis is when you are unable to control a muscle or group of muscles in your body. When you want to move a part of your body, your central nervous system sends signals to nerve cells in that body part. If something blocks this communication, weakness, loss of muscle coordination, and paralysis can result.
At times, paralysis comes on slowly. In other cases, the condition is sudden. Sudden paralysis is a medical emergency — seek immediate medical help, as many causes of acute paralysis can be treated with timely diagnosis. Some paralysis can even be reversed.
If you are experiencing sudden paralysis in Northern California, call 911 immediately or get help at a Dignity Health North State emergency room. If coming to our ER, use our online InQuicker tool to select an estimated arrival time.
The cause of sudden paralysis can be obvious — in many cases, trauma is responsible. In some instances, however, the cause is not easily determined.
Symptoms that occur right before, or along with, sudden paralysis can help your Dignity Health North State doctor make a diagnosis. Be sure to report any illnesses, exposure to chemicals, insect or snake bites, and recent food and water consumption.
Additional symptoms that can accompany sudden paralysis include:
- Loss of consciousness (may be brief)
- Problems with walking or balance
- Drooping face
- Problems speaking or understanding speech
- Memory loss
- Headache (possibly severe)
- Vision problems
Do not ignore these symptoms. Seek emergency services right away.
Identifying the Causes of Paralysis at Dignity Health North State
The following conditions can result in sudden paralysis:
- Trauma, such as a spinal cord injury
- Brain hemorrhage (bleeding)
- Stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
- Guillain-Barré syndrome — a rare autoimmune disorder, potentially triggered by an infection
- Toxins, including venom and poisons
- Infections, including West Nile disease and tetanus
- Electrolyte or chemical imbalances
Your doctor may order tests to confirm or rule out a diagnosis if the cause of your sudden paralysis in not immediately obvious. These can include in-depth neurological and imaging exams, and blood tests. You may also undergo electrophysiological tests to assess your nerve and muscle function.
Once the cause of sudden paralysis is accurately determined, your doctor will discuss appropriate treatment strategies and next steps, as necessary.
When you experience an emergency, our knowledgeable health experts are here to provide prompt treatment, reassurance, and answers with respect, compassion, and humankindness.
Dignity Health North State delivers timely care for unanticipated conditions, such as sudden paralysis, in Mt. Shasta, Red Bluff, and Redding, CA.