Muscle Weakness

Lack of muscle strength may affect everyone at one time or another. However, if the muscle weakness lasts for more than a few days or becomes progressively worse, medical treatment is necessary. The formal name for muscle weakness is myasthenia.

If you suffer any prolonged bout of muscle weakness, it is crucial to visit a Tampa Bay back pain doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Potential Causes

Many diseases or conditions can result in muscle weakness. Some of these diseases are hereditary in nature, while others result from infections and other causes. In some cases, the cause of the muscle weakness is idiopathic, or unknown.

  • Myasthenia gravis – this disease most often affects the eyes, face and throat, neck, arms and legs. People with myasthenia gravis in the legs may develop a waddle type of walk
  • Myositis – various types of muscle inflammation fall under the myositis designation. Injury, infection, and reaction to certain medications can all result in myositis
  • Parkinson’s disease – along with tremors, an early sign of the disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy – damage to the peripheral nervous system causes a variety of symptoms, including muscle weakness. Patients with diabetes often suffer from peripheral neuropathy
  • Pinched nerve
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – the tissue inflammation common in this disease causes muscle weakness
  • Slipped discs – protruding discs press on nerves, affecting those muscles served by the nerve
  • Stroke – muscle weakness is a common aftermath of a stroke

Other diseases involving muscle weakness, such as muscular dystrophy, are usually diagnosed at an early age.

As people age, they become more prone to muscle weakness because of the natural loss of strength. A sedentary lifestyle may also contribute to muscle weakness.

Muscle Damage

Damage to muscles through an injury may also lead to muscle weakness. Whether the damage occurs via trauma or a sports injury, bleeding from muscle fibers within the muscle results in swelling and inflammation. Along with pain comes muscle weakness.

Diagnosing the Problem

When an individual is complaining of muscle weakness, a Tampa Bay spinal cord doctor performs a physical exam and requires a medical history. If nerve damage is suspected, the patient may undergo a nerve conduction study, measuring nerve and muscle functioning.

Patients with symptoms suggesting peripheral neuropathy or herniated or slipped discs may undergo an MRI or CT scan.

Conditions such as myasthenia gravis are diagnosed by special blood tests looking for proteins blocking muscle receptors. Myositis is also diagnosed via blood tests, along with an MRI and muscle biopsy. The doctor will also need a list of any medication the patient takes, in case the muscle weakness is a side effect of the drug.

Treatment Options

Treatment for muscle weakness depends on the diagnosis. Patients with peripheral neuropathy may require medication along with Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, therapy, or TENS. For pinched nerves or herniated discs that do not respond to conservative treatment, patients may undergo spinal decompression surgeries to relieve pressure on the nerves.

For patients with sports injuries or muscle weakness relating to lifestyle issues, physical therapy and an individual conditioning program may help. Other lifestyle changes, including diet, may be necessary for disease management.

Patients with muscle weakness due to metabolic and other disorders are referred to the appropriate specialist.

Contact a Doctor

If you are experiencing muscle weakness, contact a Tampa Bay back pain doctor immediately to make an appointment for an examination.