Causes and Types of Paralysis
Some, or all, of a person’s body is affected when they are paralyzed. Depending on where the particular injury occurred, that is the amount of immobilization a patient will have. Some paralysis is temporary, and other paralysis can be permanent. Chiropractic care can be a surprising alternative treatment for those afflicted with this problem.
When muscle function is lost (whether in one or more muscles) the disorder is called paralysis. It could include sensory loss as well as motor loss. Paralysis could be caused by many factors, but it is mainly a result of damage to the nervous system and spinal cord. Other causes include multiple sclerosis, stroke, spina bifida, polio, and nerve injury.1 Some forms of paralysis can be caused by autoimmune disease, such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and other forms of paralysis could be more localized, such as Bell’s Palsy, which affects the face.2 Paralysis can be temporary or permanent, and it can affect one or both sides of the body. Paraplegia is when paralysis affects the lower body, and quadriplegia (which is more life-threatening, if it impacts breathing), includes the arms as well as the legs.3
Traditional Treatments for Paralysis
There is no cure for the types of paralysis which are permanent. Treatment goals, therefore, are to help the patient “adapt to life with paralysis by making them as independent as possible”. There are mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, orthoses, which are braces to compensate for weakness in muscles, and assistive technology, such as voice-activated controls.
For those who suffer from “neuropathic pain…caused by nerve damage”, painkillers are often prescribed. These can include ibuprofen, paracetamol, or alternatives such as amitriptyline or pregabalin. Medications often carry side effects, and some of them can be unpleasant (i.e., sweating, drowsiness, vision problems, dry mouth, or even suicidal thoughts). Some patients require assistance with bladder, bowels, and breathing. If patients have muscle spasms, doctors may prescribe muscle relaxers, Botox, or intrathecal baclofen therapy (a surgically implanted pump that delivers medicine). While medications are required in some cases, patients should try the more natural, safer alternatives first.4
Chiropractic may be able to provide some relief for certain types of patients with paralysis. Because chiropractic involves a holistic, natural approach to therapy, the treatment avoids the side effects associated with medications and surgeries. Eugene Charles, DC, treated a patient with Parsonage-Turner Syndrome and right arm paralysis. This patient had not received relief from nerve entrapment release surgery, and his condition worsened. He then received chiropractic adjustments, including spinal manipulation, “soft tissue trigger point therapy”, stretches, and exercises. From the first session, the patient’s range of motion increased, and he could “fully straighten his arm” after 8 treatments. “Three years later, the [patient’s arm]…was fully functional and pain-free.”5
Chiropractic care may also be useful in treating paralyzed animals. The Howick and Pakuranga Times reported that Sylvia Arts successfully treated a paralyzed dog with chiropractic adjustments in order to get “the body to heal itself” through clearing the subluxations.6 Chiropractors can provide relief for pressure on the nerves, and they can assist with giving joints more mobility. Chiropractic care cannot cure permanent paralysis, but this natural treatment has been shown to work on some cases of paralysis caused by curable ailments.7
Patients with paralysis might also find relief and benefits from a visit to a massage therapist. Massage therapy can be performed on both the mobile and paralyzed areas of the patient’s body. The patient should first call and ask the office about a few things, such as the width of doorways for wheelchairs or if there is a wheelchair-accessible bathroom, among any other accommodations required.
The therapist needs to know if certain areas lack mobility but have intact sensation, or vice versa. In both the mobile and immobile areas massage will stimulate cellular debris, metabolites, and inorganic substances. As these toxins move around inside and leave the body, the patient needs to remember to drink plenty of water before and after receiving massage therapy. The patient could experience pain relief, increased circulation and joint flexibility, and a boost to their mood. Massage might help both the physical and mental aspects of the patient, relieving the body and giving the mind some time to rest and relax.8
Massage for Animals
Massage therapy may also benefit animals with paralysis. Rabbits have been shown to benefit from massage in ways similar to humans. Pet owners can perform massage at home. They should start by putting their rabbit on the floor and making them comfortable.
Effleurage is a style of massage that uses the palms, fingertips, or knuckles for long, gliding strokes. Starting from the head, the strokes should run the length of the body, down to the tail. Effleurage is a common massage technique for any patient. Petrissage, another common technique, involves more of a kneading motion. The fingertips, knuckles, or thumbs are often used in this slow technique, which begins with a gentle pressure before becoming a little heavier as the massage goes on. These massages for rabbits can also be performed on dogs, cats, and humans.9
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