Weakness

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Weakness is a decrease in the strength in one or more muscles. In the strictest sense, the medical definition of weakness refers to loss of muscle strength, and this article is focused upon conditions that can result in a measurable loss of muscle function. Weakness may be generalized or may affect one muscle or muscle group exclusively. Diseases of the neuromuscular system, injuries, metabolic diseases, and toxins can all cause of measurable muscle weakness. Signs and symptoms of weakness can include trouble doing daily tasks, such as grooming or writing or problems with gait and loss of balance.

Many people use the term weakness as a synonym for tiredness or fatigue, although this is not technically correct. People suffering from certain medical conditions (for example, chronic fatigue, insomnia, cancer, or influenza) may describe feelings of total body weakness, referring to feelings of malaise or tiredness, even though no detectable loss of muscle strength is present.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/27/2014

Health concern on your mind? Visit the Symptom Checker.

REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

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      • How is postherpetic neuralgia treated?
      • How long does postherpetic neuralgia last?
      • What are the complications of postherpetic neuralgia?
      • What is the prognosis for postherpetic neuralgia?
      • Can postherpetic neuralgia be prevented?
    • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a tick-borne disease that causes symptoms and signs such as fever, rash, headache, and muscle...learn more »
      In This Article
      Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) Article
      • Rocky Mountain spotted fever facts
      • What is Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
      • Where do most cases of RMSF occur in the U.S.?
      • What causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
      • What are Rocky Mountain spotted fever risk factors?
      • What are Rocky Mountain spotted fever symptoms and signs?
      • How do physicians diagnose Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
      • What is the treatment for Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
      • What is the prognosis of Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
      • Is it possible to prevent Rocky Mountain spotted fever?
    • Rotator Cuff Disease Rotator cuff disease is damage to any of the four tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint. Shoulder pain and tenderness are...learn more »
      In This Article
      Rotator Cuff Disease Article
      • What is the rotator cuff?
      • What causes rotator cuff disease?
      • How is the rotator cuff injured?
      • What are symptoms of rotator cuff disease?
      • How is rotator cuff disease diagnosed?
      • How is rotator cuff disease treated?
      • What is the prognosis (outlook) for rotator cuff disease?
      • Can rotator cuff disease be prevented?
      • Rotator cuff disease facts
    • Salivary Gland Cancer Salivary gland cancer is cancer that affects the parotid glands, sublingual glands, or the submandibular glands. Risk factors...learn more »
      In This Article
      Salivary Gland Cancer Article
      • Salivary gland cancer facts*
      • What is salivary gland cancer?
      • What increases the risk of salivary gland cancer?
      • What are symptoms and signs of salivary gland cancer?
      • What exams and tests are used to detect and diagnose salivary gland cancer?
      • What is the prognosis for salivary gland cancer?
      • What tests are done to determine if salivary gland cancer has spread?
      • How does salivary gland cancer spread in the body?
      • What are the stages for salivary gland cancer?
      • What is the treatment for salivary gland cancer?
      • How does staging affect treatment options?
    • STDs in Men Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections transmitted during sexual contact. They may be caused by viruses, bacteria,...learn more »
      In This Article
      STDs in Men Article
      • What are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
      • Who is at risk for STDs?
      • What causes STDs?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of STDs?
      • List of STDs in men
      • Chlamydia
      • Gonorrhea
      • Trichomoniasis
      • HIV
      • Genital herpes
      • Genital warts (HPV)
      • Hepatitis
      • Syphilis
      • How are STDs diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for STDs?
      • What is the prognosis for STDs?
      • Can STDs be prevented?
    • Stroke A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding...learn more »
      In This Article
      Stroke Article
      • Stroke facts
      • What is a stroke?
      • What are the different types of stroke?
      • What causes a stroke?
      • What are the risk factors for stroke?
      • What is a transient ischemic attack (TIA)?
      • What are the warning signs of a stroke?
      • What are the symptoms of a stroke?
      • How is a stroke diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for stroke?
      • What is the prognosis for stroke?
      • Is recovery after a stroke possible?
      • What is stroke rehabilitation?
      • Can strokes be prevented?
    • Torn Meniscus A torn meniscus (knee cartilage) may be caused by suddenly stopping, sharply twisting, or deep squatting or kneeling when lifting...learn more »
    • Vitamin D Deficiency Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with rickets, cancer, cardiovascular disease, severe asthma in children and cognitive...learn more »
    • West Nile Virus West Nile virus (West Nile encephalitis) is a brain infection caused by a virus. People become infected with the virus after...learn more »
      In This Article
      West Nile Virus Article
      • West Nile virus facts
      • What is the history of West Nile virus?
      • Where did the West Nile virus come from?
      • How do people get West Nile virus?
      • How do mosquitoes get infected with the West Nile virus?
      • Can one person contract the virus from another?
      • Besides mosquitoes, can other insects transmit the West Nile virus?
      • Are there other viruses like the West Nile virus?
      • What are West Nile virus symptoms and signs?
      • When is there an increased risk for infection?
      • Who is at risk for getting West Nile virus?
      • What is the treatment for West Nile virus? Can West Nile virus be prevented with a vaccine?
      • Is a woman's pregnancy at risk if she gets West Nile virus?
      • What can a community do to reduce the risk of an outbreak of the West Nile virus?
      • What can a person do to reduce the risk of becoming infected with the West Nile virus?
    • Yellow Fever Yellow fever is an infectious disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Side effects are rare with the yellow fever vaccine....learn more »
      In This Article
      Yellow Fever Article
      • Yellow fever facts
      • What is yellow fever? What is the history of yellow fever?
      • What causes yellow fever?
      • How is yellow fever transmitted?
      • What areas are high risk for contracting yellow fever?
      • What is the incubation period for yellow fever?
      • What are yellow fever symptoms and signs?
      • How is yellow fever diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for yellow fever?
      • What is the prognosis for people with yellow fever?
      • Can yellow fever be prevented?
      • Where can people get more information on yellow fever?
Other Causes of Weakness
  • Congenital Myopathies
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Electrolyte Imbalances
  • Malignant Tumors
  • Malnutrition
  • Muscle Disease Medications
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Myotonic Dystrophy
  • Nerve Impingement
  • Poisoning (Organophosphates)
  • Poliomyelitis
  • Thyrotoxicosis
  • Trauma


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