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Can a trapped nerve in the spinal cord cause full

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Posted on Tue, 19 Mar 2019
Question: Can a trapped nerve in the spinal cord cause full body paralysis if left untreated ?
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Answered by Dr. Dariush Saghafi (4 hours later)
Brief Answer:
No- this is anatomically not possible

Detailed Answer:
Good evening and thank you for your question here on the Healthcaremagic Network.

The short answer to your question is NO. An entrapped, pinched, or otherwise compressed spinal nerve cannot cause full body paralysis. In fact, better news than that would be that an entrapped spinal nerve cannot truly cause PARALYSIS of even a single limb. It could (if severe enough) cause extreme pain, extreme loss of sensation, and extreme weakness (perhaps even near paralysis of a muscle or group of muscles), however, it will never result in full body paralysis.

Spinal nerves have evolved in the mammalian species to serve the functions of providing electrical signals emanating from the brain through the spinal cord and out to a muscle or small group of muscles in the limbs or torso. Spinal nerves also also provide electrical signals which carry in signals of body sensors that are constantly monitoring environmental conditions of things such as temperature, pain, vibration, pressure, and other forms of sensation as well as awareness of body parts in space. So even in that setting pinching or entrapping a nerve carrying sensory information will not paralyze the body but rather compromise the sensation in a small portion of the body (either in the head, in a limb, or in the torso).

The only way a person can be fully and completely paralyzed in all function of movement to include the limbs AND the torso would be to cause what we would refer to as a full and complete SPINAL CORD TRANSECTION and this is usually by traumatic means. There would have to be a complete BLOCK of electrical signals down from the brain to the ENTIRE system of descending MOTOR tracts in what are referred to as the CORTICOSPINAL PATHWAYS (of which there are 2 in total, 1 on the right, and 1 on the left). But again, this does not the transection of any single or even MULTIPLE spinal nerves. Rather it is a block of all nerve signals from the brain downstream into the spinal cord and this WILL cause complete and utter bodily paralysis FROM THE NECK DOWNWARD. It will not necessarily paralyze neck, facial, or oral muscles since those are not subserved by the descending spinal tract pathways but rather the CRANIAL NERVES which would be intact following a complete block of the spinal cord.

Another way of getting complete and utter paralysis of the body (including facial movements) would be to place a strategic lesion in a place located in the brainstem causing what is referred to as the LOCKED IN SYNDROME. In this awful condition (and extremely rare) the individual literally becomes LOCKED inside their bodies which following a specific insult to the PONS (area affected in the brainstem), will lose all ability to move every single muscle in their body including muscles of facial expression, the tongue the neck, and the limbs. The only things that Locked In syndrome can do is make eye movements and blink their eyes in response to questions.

However, the incredibly strange thing about this syndrome is that a person's mental faculties remain absolutely perfect and they can hear, comprehend, think, feel emotion, and process information going on about them in their environment. They simply have no way of expressing any reactions (physical or otherwise) to anything except through eye movements. It is truly one of the most devastating forms of paralysis known to man. Patients are unable to chew, swallow, or independently BREATHE. They are typically placed on ventilators for the duration of time they are LOCKED IN.

The locked in syndrome does not involve the compression of any spinal nerves, nor does it involve transection of the spinal cord. Rather, it is a strategically placed lesion in the brainstem (the PONS) which can occur as a result of a stroke, infection, bleed, tumor, or demyelination.

And so, if I've provided useful or helpful information to your question could you do me the favor of CLOSING THE QUERY along with a few POSITIVE words of feedback and maybe even a 5 STAR rating if you feel it is deserving? I would be interested in getting some updated information on how things are going in the next few weeks or few months if you can remember to drop me line at:

www.bit.ly/drdariushsaghafi

You can always reach me here at: www.bit.ly/drdariushsaghafi for this or other questions. Cheers!

This query has utilized a total of 44 minutes of professional time in research, review, and synthesis for the purpose of formulating a response.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Dariush Saghafi

Neurologist

Practicing since :1988

Answered : 2474 Questions

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Can a trapped nerve in the spinal cord cause full

Brief Answer: No- this is anatomically not possible Detailed Answer: Good evening and thank you for your question here on the Healthcaremagic Network. The short answer to your question is NO. An entrapped, pinched, or otherwise compressed spinal nerve cannot cause full body paralysis. In fact, better news than that would be that an entrapped spinal nerve cannot truly cause PARALYSIS of even a single limb. It could (if severe enough) cause extreme pain, extreme loss of sensation, and extreme weakness (perhaps even near paralysis of a muscle or group of muscles), however, it will never result in full body paralysis. Spinal nerves have evolved in the mammalian species to serve the functions of providing electrical signals emanating from the brain through the spinal cord and out to a muscle or small group of muscles in the limbs or torso. Spinal nerves also also provide electrical signals which carry in signals of body sensors that are constantly monitoring environmental conditions of things such as temperature, pain, vibration, pressure, and other forms of sensation as well as awareness of body parts in space. So even in that setting pinching or entrapping a nerve carrying sensory information will not paralyze the body but rather compromise the sensation in a small portion of the body (either in the head, in a limb, or in the torso). The only way a person can be fully and completely paralyzed in all function of movement to include the limbs AND the torso would be to cause what we would refer to as a full and complete SPINAL CORD TRANSECTION and this is usually by traumatic means. There would have to be a complete BLOCK of electrical signals down from the brain to the ENTIRE system of descending MOTOR tracts in what are referred to as the CORTICOSPINAL PATHWAYS (of which there are 2 in total, 1 on the right, and 1 on the left). But again, this does not the transection of any single or even MULTIPLE spinal nerves. Rather it is a block of all nerve signals from the brain downstream into the spinal cord and this WILL cause complete and utter bodily paralysis FROM THE NECK DOWNWARD. It will not necessarily paralyze neck, facial, or oral muscles since those are not subserved by the descending spinal tract pathways but rather the CRANIAL NERVES which would be intact following a complete block of the spinal cord. Another way of getting complete and utter paralysis of the body (including facial movements) would be to place a strategic lesion in a place located in the brainstem causing what is referred to as the LOCKED IN SYNDROME. In this awful condition (and extremely rare) the individual literally becomes LOCKED inside their bodies which following a specific insult to the PONS (area affected in the brainstem), will lose all ability to move every single muscle in their body including muscles of facial expression, the tongue the neck, and the limbs. The only things that Locked In syndrome can do is make eye movements and blink their eyes in response to questions. However, the incredibly strange thing about this syndrome is that a person's mental faculties remain absolutely perfect and they can hear, comprehend, think, feel emotion, and process information going on about them in their environment. They simply have no way of expressing any reactions (physical or otherwise) to anything except through eye movements. It is truly one of the most devastating forms of paralysis known to man. Patients are unable to chew, swallow, or independently BREATHE. They are typically placed on ventilators for the duration of time they are LOCKED IN. The locked in syndrome does not involve the compression of any spinal nerves, nor does it involve transection of the spinal cord. Rather, it is a strategically placed lesion in the brainstem (the PONS) which can occur as a result of a stroke, infection, bleed, tumor, or demyelination. And so, if I've provided useful or helpful information to your question could you do me the favor of CLOSING THE QUERY along with a few POSITIVE words of feedback and maybe even a 5 STAR rating if you feel it is deserving? I would be interested in getting some updated information on how things are going in the next few weeks or few months if you can remember to drop me line at: www.bit.ly/drdariushsaghafi You can always reach me here at: www.bit.ly/drdariushsaghafi for this or other questions. Cheers! This query has utilized a total of 44 minutes of professional time in research, review, and synthesis for the purpose of formulating a response.