Diagnosing paralysis

Diagnosing paralysis is not usually necessary if the cause is obvious for example, if paralysis has occurred after a stroke.

If tests are needed to help diagnose paralysis, the type of tests required will depend on the underlying cause.

Some testsused to help determine the extent of paralysis include:

  • X-ray where small doses of radiationare passed through your body to create an image of the denser areas, such as your bones; X-rays can be a useful way of assessing damage to your spine or neck
  • CT scan where a computer is used to assemble a series of X-ray images to build up a more detailed picture of your bones and tissue; CT scans are often used to assess the extent of damage after a severe head injury or spinal cord injury
  • MRI scan which uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce a detailed image of the inside of your body; an MRI scancan helpdetect brain damage or spinal cord damage
  • myelography a way of checking the nerve fibres in your spinal cord in more detail (a special fluid calledcontrast dye is injected into the nerves, whichmakes them show up very clearly on an X-ray, CT scan or MRI scan)
  • electromyography where sensors are used to measure the electrical activity in your muscles and nerves; electromyography is often used to diagnose Bell's palsy (temporary facial paralysis)
Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016