Muscle Weakness

It is normal to feel a measure of muscle weakness after a strenuous workout or activity. We could also attribute muscle weakness to getting older. However, if you’ve been experiencing muscle fatigue for a prolonged time, it could be an indicator of more serious health conditions than just fatigued muscles.

Muscle weakness is a symptom of many neuromuscular diseases and should be diagnosed by a neurologist. At Virgin Islands Neurology, we can perform several diagnostic tests to identify the underlying cause of muscle fatigue. Book an appointment with one of our expert neurologists in the U.S. Virgin Islands today!

A woman in the U.S. Virgin Islands complaining about her muscle weakness.

What Is Muscle Weakness?

Muscle weakness is a reduction in muscle performance. This is usually felt when performing physical tasks or exercise. For example, during a weight training session, you may not be able to perform the same amount of reps in successive sets. In the case of exercise, the weakness may be due to fatigue as muscle contractions become less powerful.

When muscle weakness has a neurological cause, there is usually a problem with the brain signals between the central nervous system and the muscles. The signal may become interrupted or damaged by disease or injury and not give the signal to fully contract.

A doctor at Virgin Islands Neurology examining a patient for muscle weakness.

What Causes Muscle Weakness?

Muscle weakness is often experienced by those who exercise or have a physical job. This type of weakness is due to fatigue within the muscle cells.

However, if you are experiencing persistent muscle weakness, it may be due to a health problem. Health conditions that can cause muscle weakness include the following:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Botulism
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT disease)
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)
  • Lambert-Eaton syndrome
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Neuralgia
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)
  • Stroke

How to Diagnose Muscle Weakness

Our neurologists can diagnose weakened muscles that have no known cause. Your neurologist will conduct a thorough examination in addition to taking your family and medical history into account.

The following diagnostic tests may be used to determine the cause of muscle weakness:

What Are the Symptoms of Muscle Weakness?

Muscle weakness can be felt anywhere on the body. There are different ways that you could feel muscle weakness. Muscle weakness falls into the following categories:

  • Primary Muscle Weakness – This is when you are unable to make the muscle movements you want to, especially on the first try. The muscle is likely damaged or otherwise abnormal, and you cannot exert the force needed to perform tasks.
  • Muscle Tiredness – This condition is also called asthenia. This condition is identified by exhaustion or weariness after simple muscle use. You may experience this weakness as a result of chronic fatigue syndrome, sleeping disorders, or chronic diseases of the kidney, heart, and lungs.
  • Muscle Fatigue – You will be able to perform tasks normally when you start, but then your muscles get tired quickly and take a long time to recover.

You may also experience the following symptoms with muscle fatigue:

How to Treat Muscle Weakness?

If muscle weakness is due to exercise, you can reduce muscle fatigue by resting, maintaining a healthy diet, and staying hydrated. Certain foods, such as ginseng and garlic, are particularly effective in relieving muscle fatigue. Other ways of treating muscle fatigue include stretching and using hot and cold therapy.

Treatment for muscle weakness due to neuromuscular disorders aims to ease symptoms and slow the disease from worsening. Treating muscle weakness caused by neuromuscular disorders may include medications and other treatments.

Medications to treat neuromuscular disease may include the following:

  • Drugs to relieve muscle pain, weakness, cramps, and stiffness
  • Drugs to address nerve impulses and strength in the muscles
  • Immunosuppressants if your disorder is caused by autoimmune issues
  • High-dose immunoglobulin therapy to build antibodies

Other treatments for neuromuscular disease include:

  • Physical therapy: Exercises can restore muscle tone and help you with motor skills.
  • Occupational therapy: This will help you learn more efficient ways of doing your daily tasks while saving energy.
  • Surgery: To treat neuropathy, surgery can relieve pressure on the nerves. To treat myasthenia gravis, surgery is used to remove the thymus.

When to Seek Medical Attention

You should seek immediate medical help if you begin having difficulty performing daily tasks or if your symptoms worsen. The following symptoms are an indication that you are experiencing a medical emergency:

How We Can Help

At Virgin Islands Neurology, our experts can give you an accurate diagnosis with tailored treatment to manage muscle weakness. Book an appointment with our experts in the U.S. Virgin Islands today!