Pyramidal Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Prevention and Treatment

It refers to all motor disorders caused by an attack of the pyramidal pathway.

The pyramidal tract, also called the pyramidal pathway or the corticospinal pathway , is the support of voluntary motor skills: it transmits motor control of the central nervous system from the cortex to the spinal cord .

This syndrome results in a set of motor deficits that makes everyday actions such as walking and dressing, as well as spasticity, difficult, if not impossible. Physiotherapy allows the patient to fight, to some extent, against the alteration of their motor skills.

Symptoms of pyramidal syndrome

Symptoms associated with a pyramidal syndrome depend on the location of the pyramidal tract lesions. The main function of the pyramidal pathway is to guarantee motor skills through the will.

Its involvement causes paralysis or paresis (partial or transient paralysis) of the muscles of the body, making, for example, walking difficult (claudication) or impossible.

The pyramidal route also has the function of inhibiting muscle tone (muscle contraction) and reflexes (tendon). Therefore, their participation leads to an exaggeration of muscle contractions (hypertonia) and reflexes (spasticity).

A person whose corticospinal pathway has been injured has a clonus, that is, a series of rapid, reflex muscle contractions.

The plantar skin reflex, often called Babinski’s sign, is the only specific sign of pyramidal involvement. To stimulation of the sole of the foot, the affected person responds with an extension of the big toe in a slow manner rather than reflexively bending the toes.

Constructive apraxia can also be associated with pyramidal syndrome, which prevents the affected person from coordinating their movements to perform complex tasks, such as dressing or speaking. Pyramidal syndrome also results in the loss of the individual’s ability to perform fine movements, especially with the fingers.

Causes of pyramidal syndrome

The pyramidal syndrome is the result of a lesion located at any level of the corticospinal pathway: the involvement of the cerebral cortex produces contralateral partial hemiplegia; the involvement of the internal capsule causes massive hemiplegia.

Brainstem involvement causes contralateral hemiplegia when the lesion is above the facial nucleus and general hemiplegia if the lesion is below the facial nucleus.

Risk factors for pyramidal syndrome

A cerebrovascular accident (stroke), brain hemorrhage, traumatic injury, tumors (benign or malignant), multiple sclerosis, or generalized seizures are all causes of damage to the corticobasal spinal tract and therefore risk factors for the development of a pyramidal syndrome.

Prevention and treatment of pyramidal syndrome

Treatment varies depending on the location of the nerve injury and its cause. Various medications are used to treat muscle spasticity. It is also treated with intramuscular injections of botulinum toxin.

This toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum inhibits the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and causes muscle fibers to relax. Physiotherapy rehabilitation of muscles with paresis is another treatment.

Relieve pyramidal syndrome

Myofascial release is probably the most effective technique for relieving pain caused by this dysfunction.

We can apply the massage ourselves. For that we use a foam roller or tennis or lacrosse ball, the latter if only supports the pressure quite well.

While it is true that for those who suffer from this problem and even more so if they drag some time, it is possible that it is quite difficult for them to get massage for continuous pain that may even have lacked anatomical precision if they know the subject.

So, in these cases, it is better to consult a professional, he will know much better precision areas to work and apply the techniques more effectively.

If you do not know exactly where to place the point of the ball or where to pass the area of ​​the foam roller, we will simply apply massages that cover the entire area where it is affected or where you want to work the muscle.

The pressure will certainly get to where the problem is and will relieve a lot of tension. However, it is likely that it is a particular point where it hurts much more and this will have an impact on which we should deal with massages performed by a professional.