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Alternative NamesLack of strength; Muscle weakness
Definition Return to top
Weakness is a reduction in the strength of one or more muscles.
Considerations Return to top
Weakness may be generalized (total body weakness) or localized to only one area, side of the body, limb, or muscle. Weakness is more notable when it is localized. Localized weakness may follow a stroke, flare up of multiple sclerosis, or injury to a nerve.
Weakness may be subjective or objective.
A subjective feeling of weakness may be associated with infectious diseases such as mono and the flu.
Causes Return to top
Measurable weakness may result from a variety of conditions including metabolic, neurologic, primary muscular diseases, and toxic disorders.
PRIMARY MUSCULAR DISEASES
Home Care Return to top
Follow prescribed therapy for treating the underlying cause of the weakness.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your doctor if you have:
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
The doctor will examine you and ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, such as:
Physical examination may include special attention paid to examination of heart, lungs, and thyroid gland. If there is a local area of weakness, the examination will focus on the nerve and muscle functions.
Diagnostic tests that may be done include:
References Return to top
Olney RK. Weakness, Disorders of Movement, and Imbalance. In Kasper DL, Braunwald E, Anthony S. Fauci AS, eds. Harrison’s Internal Medicine. 16th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2005.Update Date: 7/17/2007 Updated by: Robert Hurd, MD, Professor of Endocrinology, Department of Biology, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH, and physician in the Primary Care Clinic, Cincinnati Veterans Administration Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.