Symptoms A-Z

Weakness of Both Legs Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

Understand your weakness of both legs symptoms, including 9 causes and common questions.

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Contents

  1. 9 Possible Weakness Of Both Legs Causes
  2. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  3. Statistics

9 Possible Weakness Of Both Legs Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced weakness of both legs. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Herniated (slipped) disk in the lower back

The backbone, or spine, is made up of 26 bones called vertebrae. In between the bones are soft disks filled with a jelly-like substance. These disks cushion the vertebrae and keep them in place. Although people talk about a slipped disk, nothing actually slips out of place. The outer shell of the disk ruptures, and the jelly-like substance bulges out. It may be pressing on a nerve, which is what causes the pain.A slipped disk is more likely to happen due to strain on the back, such as during heavy lifting, and older individuals are at higher risk.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: lower back pain, moderate back pain, back pain that shoots down the leg, back pain that gets worse when sitting, leg weakness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Herniated (slipped) disk in the upper back

The backbone, or spine, is made up of 26 bones called vertebrae. In between the bones are soft disks filled with a jelly-like substance. These disks cushion the vertebrae and keep them in place. Although people talk about a slipped disk, nothing actually slips out of place. The outer shell of the disk ruptures, and the jelly-like substance bulges out. It may be pressing on a nerve, which is what causes the pain.A slipped disk is more likely to happen due to strain on the back, such as during heavy lifting, and older individuals are at higher risk.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: upper back pain, neck pain, arm weakness, back pain that gets worse when sitting, upper spine pain

Symptoms that always occur with herniated (slipped) disk in the upper back: upper back pain

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Becker muscular dystrophy

Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) is a genetic condition that leads to progressive muscle wasting due to a mutation in the gene that makes a muscle-supporting protein called dystrophin.

BMD typically presents as a less severe form of muscle wasting than the similar Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) because patients with BMD have reduced dystrophin, whereas patients with DMD have a complete absence of functional dystrophin. BMD presents later in life than patients with DMD but both conditions can become debilitating and lead to early death.

BMD is found in about 3 to 6 out of every 100,000 births and is much more common in males than females.

Symptoms include difficulty moving and standing up, extra-large calf muscles, heart trouble, and sometimes cognitive or behavioral issues.

Diagnosis is confirmed by genetic testing or, rarely, testing a piece of muscle tissue[2].

Treatment includes steroid medications.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, severe fatigue, muscle aches, general weakness, decreased exercise tolerance

Symptoms that always occur with becker muscular dystrophy: weakness, weakness of both legs

Symptoms that never occur with becker muscular dystrophy: face weakness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Stroke or tia (transient ischemic attack)

Transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is sometimes called a "mini stroke" or a "warning stroke." Any stroke means that blood flow somewhere in the brain has been blocked by a clot.

Risk factors include smoking, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, though anyone can experience a TIA.

Symptoms are "transient," meaning they come and go within minutes because the clot dissolves or moves on its own. Stroke symptoms include weakness, numbness, and paralysis on one side of the face and/or body; slurred speech; abnormal vision; and sudden, severe headache.

A TIA does not cause permanent damage because it is over quickly. However, the patient must get treatment because a TIA is a warning that a more damaging stroke is likely to occur. Take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Diagnosis is made through patient history; physical examination; CT scan or MRI; and electrocardiogram.

Treatment includes anticoagulant medication to prevent further clots. Surgery to clear some of the arteries may also be recommended.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: dizziness, leg numbness, arm numbness, new headache, stiff neck

Symptoms that never occur with stroke or tia (transient ischemic attack): bilateral weakness

Urgency: Emergency medical service

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Wernicke-korsakoff syndrome

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, or WKS, is a neurologic disorder. The names represent the acute stage of the illness, called Wernicke's Encephalopathy, and the chronic stage, called Korsakoff Syndrome.

WKS is caused by a deficiency of thiamine, or vitamin B1. It is most often seen in alcoholics; anyone who has had a poor diet, eating disorder, or weight-loss surgery; and those with serious illness such as cancer or AIDS.

Acute symptoms are primarily physical and include abnormal, uncoordinated walking and standing; flickering eye movements called nystagmus; and damage to the heart and nervous system. There may also be profound drowsiness that can lead to coma.

Chronic symptoms are primarily mental and include short-term memory loss and dementia-like behavior.

The acute stages of WKS can be a life-threatening medical emergency. Take the patient to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination and blood tests.

Treatment involves simply adding thiamine supplements to the diet, as well as treating any remaining symptoms to aid in recovery.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: nausea or vomiting, leg numbness, feeling confused and not making sense while talking, amnesia, jerky, unsteady, or uncoordinated walk

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Chronic idiopathic peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy refers to the feeling of numbness, tingling, and pins-and-needles sensation in the feet. Idiopathic means the cause is not known, and chronic means the condition is ongoing without getting better or worse.

The condition is most often found in people over age 60. Idiopathic neuropathy has no known cause.

Symptoms include uncomfortable numbness and tingling in the feet; difficulty standing or walking due to pain and lack of normal sensitivity; and weakness and cramping in the muscles of the feet and ankles.

Peripheral neuropathy can greatly interfere with quality of life, so a medical provider should be seen in order to treat the symptoms and reduce the discomfort.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination; blood tests to rule out other conditions; and neurologic and muscle studies such as electromyography.

Treatment involves over-the-counter pain relievers; prescription pain relievers to manage more severe pain; physical therapy and safety measures to compensate for loss of sensation in the feet; and therapeutic footwear to help with balance and walking.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: distal numbness, muscle aches, joint stiffness, numbness on both sides of body, loss of muscle mass

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Beriberi (adult)

A low level of vitamin B1 (thiamin) can cause damage to the heart, brain and nerves. This can result in symptoms like weakness, amnesia, nerve pain and symptoms of heart failure like swelling of limbs and shortness of breath.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: abdominal pain (stomach ache), shortness of breath, anxiety, chest pain, distal numbness

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Cauda equina syndrome (rapid-onset)

Although leg pain is common and usually goes away without surgery, cauda equina syndrome, a rare disorder affecting the bundle of nerve roots (cauda equina) at the lower (lumbar) end of the spinal cord, is a surgical emergency.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: lower back pain, back pain that shoots to the butt, back pain that shoots down the leg, leg weakness, thigh numbness

Urgency: Emergency medical service

Cauda equina syndrome (slow-onset)

Although leg pain is common and usually goes away without surgery, cauda equina syndrome, a rare disorder affecting the bundle of nerve roots (cauda equina) at the lower (lumbar) end of the spinal cord, is a surgical emergency.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: lower back pain, back pain that shoots to the butt, back pain that shoots down the leg, leg weakness, thigh numbness

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Weakness Of Both Legs

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Are you allergic to anything?
  • Do your symptoms improve with Ibuprofen/Advil/Motrin, known as NSAIDs?
  • Have a friend stand across from you and hold out a finger. Touch that finger and then touch your nose. Move the target finger around and start going faster. Are you having trouble?
  • Do you find yourself getting weaker and weaker?

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out why you're having weakness of both legs

Weakness Of Both Legs Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced weakness of both legs were most often matched with:

  • 33% Herniated (Slipped) Disk In The Lower Back
  • 33% Herniated (Slipped) Disk In The Upper Back
  • 33% Becker Muscular Dystrophy

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Weakness Of Both Legs Symptom Checker

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