What is Quadriparesis?
Quadriparesis is a medical condition where there is weakness of all the four limbs, i.e. both the arms and both the legs. Quadriparesis is also known as tetraparesis. The difference between Quadriparesis and Quadriplegia is; in Quadriparesis there is weakness of all the limbs; whereas in quadriplegia or tetraplegia, there is paralysis of all the four limbs. Both the conditions are related. There are various causes of Quadriparesis depending on which the treatment is done. Treatment is done by a neurologist who is a doctor specializing in nervous system disorders.
What are the Causes of Quadriparesis?
- Congenital conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy are associated with Quadriparesis and may cause this condition. Spastic quadriparetic cerebral palsy or quadriparetic cerebral palsy is the most severe form of cerebral palsy.
- Injury or trauma to the spinal cord occurring from car accidents, falls or a ruptured disc can also lead to the development of Quadriparesis.
- Degenerative neurological conditions can also lead to the development of Quadriparesis.
In all of the above cases, there is at least partial disturbance in the signals which are transmitted along the spine, which means that the nerves which are present below the area of the disturbance will not have complete functionality. Whereas, in quadriplegia, the patient's nerves are not able to send any signals at all, which leads to absence of sensory and motor input.
What are the Symptoms of Quadriparesis?
Depending on the specifics of the injury, patients with quadriparesis will have varying degrees of function in their limbs. Some patients may have weakness in the limbs and may lack motor control; whereas, some patients will have significant areas of paralysis. Then there are some patients who can have relatively good motor skills. Some patients may also have sensory loss and bladder dysfunction. A detailed examination of the patient needs to be conducted by a neurologist to find out the exact cause of the problem and to determine which nerve is involved.
Additional symptoms of quadriparesis include lack of growth, visual impairment, blindness, deafness, intellectual deficits and spastic quadriparesis (paralysis).
Diagnosis of Quadriparesis
In quadriparesis, the doctor first needs to find out which part of the spine is affected, and what is the cause of weakness and loss of sensation. Neurological exam of the patient is conducted along with medical history and imaging studies of the spine. For the right treatment, it is important to determine the cause and the extent of involvement of the nerves.
Treatment of Quadriparesis
Treatment depends on the cause of Quadriparesis. If quadriparesis occurs as a result of disc problems, then surgery is done to correct the discs which are impinging on the spinal cord. Physical therapy is also started to prevent muscle atrophy and contractures. Assistive devices such as wheelchair, cane or scooter can be used by the patient to assist them with walking. Other physical functions, such as emptying of the stomach can also be impaired and needs appropriate measures to help the patient lead a comfortable life.