How does the doctor diagnose paralysis?
Diagnosing paralysis is often easy to do because the main symptom — loss of muscle control in a body area — is obvious. An important part of the diagnosis is to determine the cause of the paralysis. This can be relatively straightforward if the paralysis occurs after an event such as a stroke or spinal cord injury. Sometimes, the doctor might want to learn more about the injury that’s causing the paralysis, the degree of the paralysis, and/or the state of the nerves involved. To do that, the doctor might use one or more of these tests:
- X-ray: This test uses small amounts of radiation to produce detailed images of the dense structures inside the body, such as the bones.
- CT scan: CT uses computers to combine many X-ray images into cross-sectional views of the inside of the body.
- MRI: MRI uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to create clear images of the body.
- Myelography: This test uses a contrast dye that is injected into the spinal canal to make the nerves show up very clearly on an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI.
- Electromyography (EMG): This test is used to measure the electrical activity in the muscles and nerves.
- Spinal tap: A long needle is injected into the spine to collect spinal fluid.