Paralysis

Paralysis is the loss of the ability to move some or all of the body. Depending on the cause, it may be temporary or permanent. Call 999 if you or someone else has paralysis that begins suddenly, begins after a serious injury, or causes problems with speech, breathing or swallowing.

Symptoms of paralysis

The main symptom of paralysis is the inability to move part of your body, or not being able to move at all.

It can begin suddenly or gradually. Sometimes it comes and goes.

Paralysis can affect any part of the body, including:

  • the face
  • the hands
  • one arm or leg (monoplegia)
  • one side of the body (hemiplegia)
  • both legs (paraplegia)
  • both arms and legs (tetraplegia or quadriplegia)

The affected part of your body may also be:

  • stiff (spastic paralysis), with occasional muscle spasms
  • floppy (flaccid paralysis)
  • numb, painful or tingly

When to see your GP

See your GP if you have paralysis or weakness that:

  • started gradually
  • is getting slowly worse
  • comes and goes

Your GP can do some tests to see what the cause might be.

They may refer you to a hospital specialist for more tests if they're unsure what's causing your symptoms.

When to get emergency help

Call 999 for an ambulance if you or someone else has paralysis or weakness that:

  • begins suddenly
  • begins after a serious injury, such as a fall or car crash
  • causes problems with speech, breathing or swallowing

These problems could be a sign of something serious that needs to be treated in hospital straight away.

Causes of paralysis

There are many possible causes of paralysis.

But don't try to identify the cause yourself. See a doctor to get a proper diagnosis.

Main causes of paralysis

Some of the main causes of paralysis are:

Other causes of paralysis

Other causes of paralysis include:

Treatment and support

Paralysis can have a big impact on your life. Support is available to help you live as independently as you can and have the best possible quality of life.

The help you need will largely depend on what's causing your paralysis, see section above.

Some of the things that can help people who are paralysed include:

  • mobility equipment – such as wheelchairs and limb supports (braces)
  • physiotherapy to help you maintain as much strength and muscle mass as you can
  • occupational therapy to help adapt your home so everyday tasks like dressing and cooking are easier
  • medicines to relieve problems such as pain, stiffness and muscle spasms

The information on this page has been adapted from original content from the NHS website.

For further information see terms and conditions.

This page was published January 2018

This page is due for review March 2021

Health conditions A to Z

Search by health condition or symptoms

Or find conditions beginning with …

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.