Filter Glossary


  • Overview


    Quadriplegia is a medical condition that results in paralysis of all limbs and areas of the body below the neck. It is commonly caused by injuries to the spinal cord in the neck region but can also arise from specific medical conditions. Although some cases of quadriplegia may be treatable, the majority, especially those caused by injuries, often lead to irreversible paralysis.

  • Symptoms


    Quadriplegia is a condition that affects both arms and legs, resulting in weakness, either partial or complete. This weakness can take the form of spasticity, where the muscles involuntarily contract and have a high tone when stretched or moved. Alternatively, it can cause flaccid arms and legs that appear atrophied, making it difficult to activate or contract the muscles.

    The symptoms of quadriplegia can vary depending on the underlying cause. Children with cerebral palsy may experience difficulty with speech and swallowing and require assistance with sitting, standing, or walking. They may also have trouble controlling their bowel or bladder function and be diagnosed with a learning disability.

    Individuals with spinal cord injuries may experience bowel or bladder dysfunction and may be at higher risk of developing heart and lung complications. Some may even require mechanical assistance to breathe.

    Similarly, those who have experienced a spinal cord stroke may have difficulty controlling their bowel or bladder, numbness or tingling in the extremities, severe neck or back pain, sexual dysfunction, or an inability to feel hot or cold temperatures.

  • When to see a doctor


    Quadriplegia, also known as tetraplegia, is a condition that affects the arms, legs, trunk, and pelvic organs due to spinal cord injury. People with quadriplegia may have difficulty with movement, sensation, and breathing. Suppose you experience any of the following symptoms. In that case, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately: difficulty breathing, loss of bladder and bowel control, severe pain in the neck or back, loss of feeling or movement in the arms or legs, and spasms or stiffness in the muscles. A proper diagnosis and treatment plan is essential to manage the symptoms and improve quality of life.

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  • Causes


    Various factors can cause quadriplegia, but the most common cause is spinal cord trauma. This can be the result of falls, violence-related injuries, sports-related injuries, motor vehicle accidents (particularly if the individual is not wearing a seat belt or is ejected from the vehicle), or other medical conditions such as spinal tumours or cysts, infections, blocked or ruptured blood vessels, congenital conditions like myelomeningocele or spina bifida, injuries during childbirth or early childhood leading to cerebral palsy, and autoimmune or inflammatory conditions such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, multiple sclerosis, or transverse myelitis.

  • Risk factors


    Quadriplegia is a condition that causes paralysis in all four limbs and affects the entire body. The most common cause is spinal cord injuries, which can occur due to various factors such as trauma, disease, and more. Age, gender, smoking, and alcohol use are some of the factors that can increase the risk of spinal cord injuries. Additionally, medical conditions like multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy, as well as certain medications and treatments, can also contribute to the risk of quadriplegia. It is crucial to take preventative measures to reduce the risk of spinal cord injuries and seek proper medical attention if one experiences any symptoms of quadriplegia.

  • Prevention


    The treatments available for quadriplegia can vary significantly depending on the underlying cause and the location of the issue within the spine. The potential for recovery from quadriplegia can also differ from person to person.

    In trauma cases, the foremost concern is to minimise further damage and prevent any additional harm. This usually involves immobilising the individual with specialised backboards, collars, or braces to ensure spinal stability and avoid any other impact or damage to the spinal cord.

    Other methods of preventing spinal cord injury resulting from trauma may include:
    – Early surgical intervention to relieve pressure surrounding the spinal cord.
    – Early surgical intervention to fuse or stabilise vertebrae, thereby preventing them from causing further harm to the spinal cord.

    Given these complexities, it is best to consult a healthcare provider who can provide tailored advice and information regarding your situation. They can offer guidance on potential treatments and side effects or complications that may arise from those treatments.

  • *Please note that the information provided in the article is for reference purposes only. It is essential to consult a doctor before applying any of the suggestions mentioned.

Content Details

Medical info from Cleveland Clinic, for reference only. Visit Hoan My for better advice.

Last updated on: 19/09/2023