Limb Weakness

Elderly woman seated on couch touches knee

Weakness of the arms or legs is an indicator of a problem with the nervous system. The problem could be a case of functional weakness, or it could indicate an underlying issue, such as nerve damage or illness. Weakness may appear suddenly or develop gradually depending on its cause. An assessment of limb weakness is necessary to evaluate symptoms and make an accurate diagnosis.

Did you know?

There are certain signs and symptoms that, when accompanying limb weakness, require immediate emergency attention. If you are experiencing any type of muscle weakness accompanied by breathing difficulty or a sudden inability to perform basic tasks, such as chewing, talking, or walking – visit your nearest emergency room. You should also get emergency services if you are suddenly unable to raise your head from a lying down position.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I get an evaluation if I am experiencing the symptoms of limb weakness?

If you suffer from weakness that affects one or more of your arms or legs, see a doctor or therapist for an evaluation as soon as possible. Although limb weakness is not always a serious condition, the only way of knowing for sure is by undergoing an evaluation.

What should I expect during a limb weakness evaluation?

During a limb weakness evaluation, you will be asked about the type of weakness you are experiencing. For example, are you feeling sensations of heaviness and fatigue in your muscles? Or perhaps you are having difficulty performing certain motor functions or placing weight on an affected limb. Your doctor will also want to know when the onset of your weakness was and if it has worsened over time. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have a family history of limb weakness or if you have other symptoms associated with it.
Based on your answers, your doctor may recommend various tests, such as a physical exam that evaluates the function of affected limbs when put into certain actions. Laboratory tests may be used to check for conditions like anemia. Your doctor may also suggest electrodiagnostic testing to analyze the function of your nerves and muscles in motion and at rest.

What types of treatments are available to me after being evaluated?

There are many types of treatments available to patients with limb weakness though they vary based on diagnosis. For example, if you are suffering from functional limb weakness, the condition may go away or improve on its own without intervention. Other causes, such as fibromyalgia and neuromuscular diseases, require more extensive treatments.