Weakness is reduced strength in one or more muscles.
Weakness may be all over the body or in only one area. Weakness is more noticeable when it is in one area. Weakness in one area may occur:
You may feel weak but have no real loss of strength. This is called subjective weakness. It may be due to an infection such as mononucleosis or the flu. Or, you may have a loss of strength that can be noted on a physical exam. This is called objective weakness.
Weakness may be caused diseases or conditions affecting many different body systems. Causes may include:
Weakness may be caused by a variety of conditions, including:
BRAIN/NERVOUS SYSTEM (NEUROLOGIC)
Follow the therapy your health care provider recommends to treat the cause of the weakness.
Call your health care provider if you have:
The health care provider will do a physical exam. Your provider will also ask you questions such as:
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 the following tests:
Lack of strength; Muscle weakness
Griggs RC, Jozefowicz RF, Aminoff MJ. Approach to the patient with neurologic disease. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 403.
Chinnery PF. Muscle diseases. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 429.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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