Friday, April 19

10 Causes of Sudden Leg Weakness—No. 8 Is Very Common

Let’s talk about sudden leg weakness and what serious conditions can indicate it!

A feeling of sudden leg weakness, causing your legs to buckle or give out, can be alarming. The condition is a common symptom of many different injuries and health conditions. Not all of them are serious, but sometimes weakness in the legs indicates a medical urgency that requires prompt medical treatment, especially sudden weakness.

This condition not only refers to weakness that is very obvious over seconds, hours, or days. In some cases, sudden leg weakness may have been coming on for weeks.

In this article, we’ll discuss a few potential causes of it and other symptoms you need to know.

sudden leg weakness
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1. Guillain-Barré syndrome

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare autoimmune disorder that happens when your immune system attacks your nerves, causing weakness and tingling that typically begins in the legs and feet. The weakness can spread quickly and eventually paralyze your entire body if not treated right away.

Aside from sudden leg weakness, other GBS symptoms include severe pain that worsens at night, prickling or needles or pins sensations in your fingers, ankles, wrists, and toes, problems controlling your bowels or bladder, and difficulty with eye or facial movements.

It’s still unknown what causes GBS, but an infection, such as respiratory or stomach flu, usually triggers it. See a doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms. While there’s no cure for Guillain-Barré syndrome, there are treatments that can relieve symptoms and reduce the duration of the illness.

2. Slipped disc

A slipped disc happens when the gel-like substance inside the shock-absorbing discs that cushion your vertebrae protrudes through a split in the exterior, causing pain. This can occur because of an injury or age-related degenerative changes in the spine.

When the slipped disc compresses a nearby nerve, it can cause numbness and pain along the affected nerve, often down your leg. Other symptoms include muscle weakness, a tingling or burning sensation in the affected area, and pain that’s worse when sitting or standing.

See a doctor if back or neck pain extends to other parts of your body and you experience symptoms like sudden leg weakness. Conservative treatment, which consists of physical therapy and rest, usually relieves symptoms within a few weeks.

3. Stroke

You may think that a sudden leg weakness has nothing to do with a stroke, but they’re actually related. A stroke happens when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted because of a blockage or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. It can cause a sudden weakness or numbness in the face, legs, or arms.

Other symptoms and signs of stroke include difficulty speaking, sudden confusion, a sudden, severe headache, and an uneven smile or dropping of one side of the face.

If you or someone else is having a stroke, act quickly and call 911 or your local emergency services as soon as possible. Prompt treatment is crucial to recovering from a stroke. The risk of long-term complications reduces as soon as the patient receives medical attention.

4. Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. In multiple sclerosis, your immune system attacks myelin, which is the protective layer around your nerves. Most diagnoses happen in people ages 20 to 50.

MS can cause different symptoms that vary from person to person. Fatigue and numbness are the most common symptoms. Others include sudden leg weakness, difficulty walking, acute and chronic pain, muscle spasticity, tremors, and visual disturbances.

Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong condition that can either progress over time or include periods of relapses of symptoms that are followed by periods of remission.

Treatments for MC, including physical therapy and medication, can slow disease progression and help you regain strength in your legs.

Read on to discover other potential causes of sudden leg weakness!

leg weakness
Photo by okawa somchai from Shutterstock

5. Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is the damage to nerves in your body’s peripheral nervous system, which is a vast communication network that sends information from your brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. It can be caused by an infection, an injury, or several conditions, including hypothyroidism and diabetes.

Symptoms usually start with sudden leg weakness, but you can also feel tingling in your hands. The numbness can spread to other parts of your body. Other symptoms include sharp, lightning-like pain, pain that worsens at night, weakness, difficulty walking, and a burning or freezing sensation.

Treatment depends on the cause of the nerve damage and may start with treating an underlying condition. Different therapies and prescription medications are also available.

6. Pinched nerve

Sciatica, which is caused by a pinched nerve in your lower back, is a pain that travels along the path of the sciatic nerve. This is the longest nerve in your body, extending from your lower back through your buttocks, hips, and legs. Sciatica generally affects one side of your body.

The condition can range from a mild ache to sharp burning pain and worsen with sneezing or prolonged sitting. You may also experience sudden leg weakness or numbness. By the way, here’s a massager machine that can help you relieve the discomfort and pain in your legs.

Mild sciatica generally goes away with rest and self-care measures, such as stretching. Talk to your doctor if your pain is severe or lasts longer than a few weeks.

Get emergency care if you experience sudden, severe pain in your leg or lower back accompanied by muscle numbness weakness or trouble controlling your bowels or bladder, which is a sign of cauda equina syndrome.

7. Myasthenia gravis

Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a relatively rare neuromuscular disorder that causes weakness in your voluntary skeletal muscles. It can affect people of any age but is more common in males over 60 and females under 40.

Symptoms include sudden leg weakness, muscle numbness in the hands, legs, or feet, double vision, trouble speaking, difficulty chewing or swallowing, and dropping eyelids.

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for myasthenia gravis, but early treatment can help improve symptoms and limit disease progression. Treatment usually combines medication, lifestyle changes, and sometimes surgery.

8. Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is an age-related neurodegenerative disorder that affects an area of the brain that’s called the substantia nigra.

Symptoms develop gradually over the years. In most cases, problems with movement are the first symptoms. Other Parkinson’s disease symptoms include limb stiffness, small handwriting or other writing changes, problems with walking or balance, slow movement (bradykinesia), voice changes, and tremors.

Treatment for Parkinson’s disease involves a combination of medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes. Physical therapy and medications can help reduce the muscle loss caused by the disorder.

leg weakness
Photo by ibreakstock from Shutterstock

9. ALS

Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurological disease that damages nerve cells. It often starts with muscle twitching and sudden leg weakness.

Other early symptoms include trouble swallowing, slurred speech, difficulty walking or performing daily tasks, and difficulty holding up your head. There’s currently no cure for ALS, but there are treatments that can help control complications and symptoms and improve quality of life.

10. Spinal lesion or tumor

A spinal lesion or tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue surrounding or within your spinal cord or column. Spinal tumors can be noncancerous or cancerous. They can originate in the spinal column or spine or spread there from another site.

The most common symptom is back pain, which increases with activity or worsens at night. If the tumor presses on a nerve, it can cause sudden leg weakness or numbness in the arms or chest.

Treatment depends on the location and type of the lesion or tumor and whether or not it’s cancerous. Some options to resolve sudden leg weakness include radiation therapy, chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, or surgery to remove the tumor.

If you liked our article on the causes of sudden leg weakness, you may also want to read 10 Early Signs of Osteoarthritis You Shouldn’t Ignore.

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