Paralysis; Paresis; Loss of movement; Motor dysfunction
Muscle function loss is when a muscle does not work or move normally. The medical term for complete loss of muscle function is paralysis.
Loss of muscle function may be caused by:
The loss of muscle function after these types of events can be severe. In some cases, muscle strength may not completely return, even with treatment.
Paralysis can be temporary or permanent. It can affect a small area (localized or focal) 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. If it affects both arms and legs, it is called quadriplegia. If the paralysis affects the muscles that cause breathing, it is quickly life-threatening.
Diseases of the muscles that cause muscle-function loss include:
Diseases of the nervous system that cause muscle function loss include:
Sudden loss of muscle function is a medical emergency. Get medical help right away.
After you have received medical treatment, your health care provider may recommend some of the following measures:
Muscle paralysis always requires immediate medical attention. If you notice gradual weakening or problems with a muscle, get medical attention as soon as possible.
The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:
Aggravating and relieving factors:
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.
Evoli A, Vincent A. Disorders of neuromuscular transmission. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 394.
Selcen D. Muscle diseases. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 393.
Warner WC, Sawyer JR. Neuromuscular disorders. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 35.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 1/23/2022
Reviewed By: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Department of Neurology, Cooper Medical School at Rowan University, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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