Abrupt leg weakness can be a sign of a serious hidden health problem and must be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible. In some cases, it might indicate a medical condition that needs emergency care.
Here we’ll go over 11 typical reasons for leg weakness and other symptoms you require to know.
1. Slipped Disc
A slipped disc occurs when the gelatinous compound inside the discs that cushion your vertebrae protrudes through a tear in the exterior, causing pain. This can occur because of injury or age-related degenerative changes in the spine.
If the slipped disc compresses a close-by nerve, it can trigger pain and numbness along the impacted nerve, often down your leg.
Other symptoms consist of:
- muscle weakness
- pain that’s worse when standing or sitting
- tingling or burning feeling in the afflicted area
See your doctor if neck or back pain extends down your arm or leg or you experience numbness, tingling, or weakness.
Conservative treatment, consisting of rest followed by physical treatment, generally relieves symptoms within a few weeks.
A stroke takes place when the blood supply to your brain is cut off because of a blockage, or a blood vessel in the brain bursts. It can trigger abrupt numbness or weakness in the face, arms, or legs.
Other signs and symptoms of stroke consist of:
- unexpected confusion
- difficulty speaking
- unexpected, severe headache
- drooping of one side of the face or uneven smile
If you or someone else is having a stroke, call 911 immediately. Trigger treatment is vital to recuperating from a stroke. Early treatment can reduce the danger of long-term complications.
3. Guillain-Barré Syndrome
Guillain-Barré syndrome is an uncommon autoimmune condition in which your immune system attacks your nerves, causing tingling and weakness that normally begins in the feet and legs. The weakness can spread out quickly and eventually immobilize the entire body if not treated right now.
Other symptoms can include:
- prickling or pins and needles experiences in your wrists, fingers, ankles, and toes
- serious pain that worsens in the evening
- difficulty with eye or facial motions
- problems controlling your bladder or bowels
The reason for the condition isn’t known, however it’s frequently activated by an infection, such the stomach flu or a respiratory infection.
See a doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms. There’s no treatment, however there are treatments that can relieve symptoms and reduce the duration of the disease.
4. Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune illness of the main nervous system. In MS, your immune system attacks the myelin, which is the protective sheath around your nerves. It’s most often diagnosed in individuals aged 20 to 50.
MS can cause a vast array of symptoms that differ from person to person. Numbness and fatigue are the most common symptoms. Other symptoms consist of:
- muscle weakness
- muscle spasticity
- difficulty walking
- acute and chronic pain
- visual disruptions
MS is a lifelong condition that can include periods of relapses of symptoms that are followed by durations of remission, or it can be progressive.
Treatments for MS, including medication and physical treatment, can help you gain back strength in your legs and slow development of the illness.
5. Pinched Nerve
Sciatica, which is brought on by a pinched nerve in the lower back, is pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, which extends from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down the legs. It normally affects one side of your body.
Sciatica can vary from a dull pains to sharp burning pain, and intensify with prolonged sitting or sneezing. You may also experience leg numbness and weakness.
Mild sciatica normally disappears with rest and self-care procedures, such as stretching. See your doctor if your pain lasts longer than a week or is extreme.
Get emergency care if you experience unexpected, extreme pain in your lower back or leg accompanied by muscle weakness or numbness, or trouble managing your bladder or bowels, which is a sign of cauda equina syndrome.
6. Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage to your body’s peripheral nervous system, which connects the nerves from your central nerve system to the rest of your body.
It can be caused by injury, infection, and a number of conditions, including diabetes (diabetic neuropathy) and hypothyroidism.
Symptoms usually start with numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, but can spread to other parts of your body. Other symptoms include:
- pain that worsens at night
- burning or freezing feeling
- shooting or electric-like pain
- difficulty walking
Treatment depends upon the cause of the nerve damage and might start with dealing with a hidden condition. Prescription medications and various therapies are also offered.
7. Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s illness is a neurodegenerative disorder that impacts an area of the brain called the substantia nigra.
Symptoms of the condition establish slowly for many years. Problems with movement are normally the first signs. Other Parkinson’s illness symptoms consist of:
- small handwriting or other writing changes
- sluggish movement (bradykinesia).
- limb stiffness.
- problems with balance or walking.
- voice modifications.
Treatment for Parkinson’s illness includes a combination of way of life modifications, medications, and therapies. Medications and physical treatment can help reduce muscle loss brought on by Parkinson’s disease.
8. Myasthenia Gravis
Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a neuromuscular condition that triggers weakness in your voluntary skeletal muscles. It can impact individuals of any age, however is more typical in females under the age of 40 and males older than 60.
Symptoms consist of:
- muscle weakness in the arms, hands, legs, or feet.
- sagging eyelids.
- double vision.
- trouble speaking.
- difficulty swallowing or chewing.
There’s no treatment for MG, however early treatment can limit disease development and help enhance muscle weakness. Treatment is generally a combination of lifestyle modifications, medications, and sometimes surgery.
9. Spinal Lesion Or Tumor
A spinal lesion or tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue within or surround the spinal cord or column. Spinal tumors can be cancerous or noncancerous, and originate in the spine or spine or spread there from another site.
Back pain, which is even worse at night or increases with activity, is the most common symptom. If the tumor presses on a nerve, it can trigger numbness or weakness in the arms, legs, or chest.
Treatment depends upon the type and area of the lesion or tumor, and whether it’s cancerous or noncancerous. Surgery to remove the tumor, or radiation therapy or chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, can typically solve leg weakness.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s a progressive neurological illness that harms nerve cells and often begins with muscle twitching and weakness in the legs.
Other early symptoms consist of:
- difficulty walking or performing day-to-day tasks.
- trouble swallowing.
- slurred speech.
- difficulty holding up your head.
There’s presently no cure for ALS, but treatments are available that can help control symptoms and complications and improve quality of life.
Toxic neuropathy is nerve damage triggered by toxic compounds, such as cleaning up chemicals, insecticides and pesticides, and lead. Consuming a great deal of alcohol can likewise trigger it. This is called alcoholic neuropathy.
It affects the nerves of your arms and hands or legs and feet, causing nerve pain, numbness or tingling, and weakness that can cause loss of movement.
Treatment includes medication to relieve nerve pain and restricting exposure to the toxin.
When To See A Doctor
Leg weakness need to always be evaluated by a doctor as it may be caused by a major underlying condition that needs treatment.
Get emergency medical care if:
- Your weakness is accompanied by abrupt, serious pain in your back or leg.
- You experience loss of bladder or bowel control.
- You or someone else experiences any warning signs of a stroke.
The Bottom Line
Abrupt leg weakness could be an indication of a severe medical concern, such as a stroke. Head to the closest emergency room or call 911 if you’re unsure what’s going on.
Other conditions can also trigger leg weakness or difficulty walking. See your doctor as soon as possible if you experience leg weakness, numbness or tingling, or modifications to how you walk.