Q. How to manage unilateral paralysis of the diaphragm?

Answered by
Dr. Amol Kumar Wasudeorao Diwan
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Jul 07, 2016 and last reviewed on: Jan 11, 2023

Hi doctor,

What health implications have been observed with a unilateral paralysis of the diaphragm? I have had a plication performed, but it failed and is back to the original issue. Currently, I am suffering from shortness of breath, chest pain with dizzy spells and increased heart rate. I am on Propranolol for the heart rate issue. Please help.



Welcome to

  • The diaphragm is the most important muscle of ventilation. Unilateral diaphragmatic paralysis is usually well tolerated if there is no underlying lung or rib cage pathology. But, if severe, then it may cause dyspnea and hypoxemia and require treatment.
  • The most common cause is nerve compression either trauma or some cancer or it may go unidentified called as idiopathic.
  • Patients usually develop severe restrictive ventilatory impairment on spirometry. The vital capacity and total lung capacity frequently are below 50% of predicted for that patient. Lung capacity is reduced when the patient assumes the lying down position.
  • The main treatment is directed at the treatment of the underlying etiologic cause and chest physiotherapy.
  • But, in your case as you said, plication is already failed. The only way to increase its strength is by the inspiratory muscle strength and endurance training through physiotherapy.
  • In some cases there is spontaneous recovery if the impairment is mild or if the etiology is removed. But, ultimately it is the endurance training that will help in the long run.
  • Also, every attempt should be made to prevent any lung infection, which will become very difficult to treat in the future.

The Probable causes:

Traumatic or some cancer causing nerve compression.

Investigations to be done:

MRI Scan and spirometry.

Probable diagnosis:

Unilateral diaphragmatic paralysis.

Regarding follow up:

For further information consult a pulmonologist online.--->

Was this answer helpful?


Same symptoms doesn’t mean you have the same problem. Consult a doctor now!

Related Questions:
Do I need to get a lung biopsy to confirm bronchiectasis?

.. scan report is suggestive of cylindrical bronchiectasis with some infective foci. Usually, the diagnosis of bronchiectasis is made on the HRCT thorax (high-resolution computed tomography) and there is no need of any lung biopsy. Bronchiectasis is ...   Read full

I get sudden shortness of breath with wheezing and sharp pain. Could it be COPD or PF?

I am worried I have PF or COPD and have had a miscarriage from coughing and so depressed for the last six months because I cannot think or focus on anything ...   Read full

Do fluctuating bpm with chest discomfort reveal autonomic dysfunction?

.. you have been suffering from seem to point to a number of possibilities. One would initially suspect a cardiac abnormality given the drastic fluctuations in your pulse rate, but that would show up on an ECG or echo tests. Since your ECG and echo t...   Read full

Also Read Answers From:

ideaComprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Also Read

Coronavirus Variant Arcturus: | Omicron XBB.1.16 Variant
Arcturus is an emerging variant of the Omicron virus that causes various symptoms and spreads rapidly across the world. ...  Read more»
Adrenaline Rush - Symptoms, Causes, Effects, and How to Control
Adrenaline is a hormone responsible for fight or flight response. It is also a neurotransmitter and medicine. It is also...  Read more»
Fatty Liver - Types, Symptoms, Stages, and Treatment
The liver is the largest gland in the body. Its primary function is to process the food and drinks we consume. and filte...  Read more»

Ask your health query to a doctor online?

Ask a Pulmonologist Now

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.