Limb Weakness
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Reviewed By:

Bret Mobley, MD, MS

Bret Mobley, MD, MS (Neuropathology)

Dr. Mobley graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School, completing a masters degree in neuroscience between his second and third years of medical school. He trained as a resident in pathology at Stanford University Hospital before joining the faculty of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville Tennessee in 2010. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2018 and to Neuropathology Division Director in 2020.

Shohei Harase, MD

Shohei Harase, MD (Neurology)

Dr. Harase spent his junior and senior high school years in Finland and the U.S. After graduating from the University of Washington (Bachelor of Science, Molecular and Cellular Biology), he worked for Apple Japan Inc. before entering the University of the Ryukyus School of Medicine. He completed his residency at Okinawa Prefectural Chubu Hospital, where he received the Best Resident Award in 2016 and 2017. In 2021, he joined the Department of Cerebrovascular Medicine at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center, specializing in hyperacute stroke.

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Content updated on Apr 4, 2024

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About the Symptom

Decreased muscle strength, where you try your best to move a limb but a normal muscle contraction doesn't occur. Muscle weakness is typically due to nerve issues or problems within the muscles.

When to see a doctor

Seek professional care if you experience any of the following symptoms

  • Weakness in arms or legs

Possible Causes

Generally, Limb weakness can be related to:

  • Muscular Dystrophy

    Muscular dystrophy (MD) is a group of diseases causing progressive weakness and muscle wasting. It is caused by mutated genes that normally allow healthy muscles to form. Different types of MD can appear at different ages, ranging from childhood to adulthood, and also present different levels of severity and clinical manifestations.

  • Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (AIDS-Related PML)

    Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a serious neurological disorder caused by the destruction of cells that produce myelin (protective layer around nerves) in the white matter of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). It is caused by the reactivation of the JC (John Cunningham) virus. Most adults have been exposed to this virus, and it usually doesn't cause any problems, but people with a weakened immune system are at higher risk for developing PML. PML is typically associated with patients who have HIV/AIDS, but it can also occur in patients without HIV who have a weakened immune system for other reasons.

  • Lambert-Eaton Syndrome

    Lambert-Eaton syndrome is a condition where a person's immune system attacks the connections between the nerves and the muscles. This usually causes muscle weakness and fatigue. This condition is most often seen in people with small cell lung cancer, those with immune system problems, or rarely other types of cancer such as lymphoma.

  • Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO)

Related serious diseases

Sometimes, Limb weakness may be related to these serious diseases:

Doctor's Diagnostic Questions

Your doctor may ask these questions to check for this symptom:

  • Do your arms or legs feel weak?

  • Are you experiencing an inability to move one side of your body?

  • Do you experience more weakness in one side of your body?

  • Is your speech slurred?

  • Do you see double?

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Reviewed By:

Bret Mobley, MD, MS

Bret Mobley, MD, MS (Neuropathology)

Dr. Mobley graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School, completing a masters degree in neuroscience between his second and third years of medical school. He trained as a resident in pathology at Stanford University Hospital before joining the faculty of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville Tennessee in 2010. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2018 and to Neuropathology Division Director in 2020.

Shohei Harase, MD

Shohei Harase, MD (Neurology)

Dr. Harase spent his junior and senior high school years in Finland and the U.S. After graduating from the University of Washington (Bachelor of Science, Molecular and Cellular Biology), he worked for Apple Japan Inc. before entering the University of the Ryukyus School of Medicine. He completed his residency at Okinawa Prefectural Chubu Hospital, where he received the Best Resident Award in 2016 and 2017. In 2021, he joined the Department of Cerebrovascular Medicine at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center, specializing in hyperacute stroke.

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