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.
Causes and Types of Paralysis
When muscle function is lost (whether in one more muscles) the disorder is called paralysis. It can include sensory loss as well as motor loss. Paralysis can 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 can 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…cause by nerve damage”, painkillers are often subscribed. These can include ibuprofen, paracetamol, or alternatives such as amitriptyline or pregabalin. Medications 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).4
Chiropractic may be able to provide some relief for certain types of paralyzed patients. Because chiropractic involves a holistic, natural approach to therapy, 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.7