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Weakness

  • Definition
    • Weakness is reduced strength in one or more muscles.

  • Alternative Names
    • Lack of strength; Muscle weakness

  • Causes
  • Home Care
    • Follow the therapy your health care provider recommends to treat the cause of the weakness.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • Call your health care provider if you have:

      • Sudden weakness, especially if it is in one area and does not occur with other symptoms, such as fever
      • Sudden weakness after being ill with a virus
      • Weakness that does not go away and has no cause you can explain
      • Weakness in one area of the body
  • What to Expect at Your Office Visit
    • The health care provider will do a physical exam. Your provider will also ask you about your weakness, such as when it began, how long it has lasted, and whether you have it all the time or only at certain times. You may also be asked about medicines you take or if you have been ill recently.

      The health care provider may pay close attention to your heart, lungs, and thyroid gland. The exam will focus on the nerves and muscles if the weakness is only in one area.

      You may have blood or urine tests. Imaging tests such as x-ray or ultrasound may also be ordered.

  • References
    • Preston DC, Shapiro BE. Proximal, distal, and generalized weakness. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziota JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 25.

      Warner WC, Sawyer JR. Neuromuscular disorders. In: Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 35.