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Alternative NamesParalysis; Paresis; Loss of movement; Motor dysfunction
Definition Return to top
Muscle function loss is when a muscle doesn't work or move normally. The medical term for complete loss of muscle function is paralysis.
Considerations Return to top
Loss of muscle function may be caused by:
The loss of muscle function after these types of events can be severe, and often will not completely return.
Paralysis can be temporary or permanent. It can affect a small area (localized) or be widespread (generalized). It may affect one side (unilateral) or both sides (bilateral).
If the paralysis affects the lower half of the body and both legs it is called paraplegia. It if affects both arms and legs, it is called quadriplegia. If the paralysis affects the muscles that cause breathing, it is quickly life threatening.
Causes Return to top
Causes of paralysis include:
Home Care Return to top
Sudden loss of muscle function is a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical help.
After you have received medical treatment, your doctor may recommend some of the following measures:
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Muscle paralysis always requires immediate medical attention. If you notice gradual weakening or problems with a muscle, get medical attention as soon as possible.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
The doctor will perform a physical examination and ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:
Tests that may be performed include:
Intravenous feeding or feeding tubes may be required in severe cases. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy may be recommended.
References Return to top
Griggs RC, Józefowicz RF, Aminoff MJ. Approach to the patient with neurologic disease. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa. Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 418.
Barohn RJ. Muscle diseases. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa. Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 447.Update Date: 11/13/2008 Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.