Skip to Content
Find MS events and support groups near you! Get started >>



Weakness is a loss of muscle strength or energy. It may be caused by brain, nerve, or muscle problems. Physical and mental conditions such as heart problems, pregnancy, dehydration, or depression may also cause weakness. Reactions to certain drugs can cause weakness. Parts of your body may become weak if you need to wear a cast or splint or have been on bed rest for a long time.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
    • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
    • Trouble breathing
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing
  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
  • You lose feeling in your weakened body area.
  • You have electric shock-like feelings down your arms and legs when you flex or move your neck.
  • You have severe pain in your back, arms, or legs that worsens.
  • You have sudden or increased trouble speaking, swallowing, or breathing.
  • You have sudden or worsened muscle weakness or loss of movement.
  • You are not able to control when you urinate or have a bowel movement.

Contact your primary healthcare provider if:

  • You feel depressed or anxious.
  • You have questions or concerns about your symptoms.

Protect yourself from injury:

Have someone install handrails in your home to help you get out of the bathtub or stand from the toilet. Get help going up and down stairs if your legs are weak. Your primary healthcare provider may place a splint on your affected body part if you have chronic (long-term) weakness. Ask for more information about splints.


Your primary healthcare provider will teach you exercises to help increase movement in your weakened body part. This will happen if you have chronic weakness. Avoid too much exercise, and get plenty of rest. Rest your mind as well as your body. Try to avoid stress if possible. Stress may make your symptoms worse.


Eat the right amount of food. Too much or too little food may cause weakness or tiredness. Ask what a healthy amount of food is for you.

Wellness tips:

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, cigarette smoking, and illegal drugs. These may worsen your symptoms.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.