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Description of the Symptom

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This chapter describes pathology that may lead to weakness. Weakness is the inability of muscles to generate force to generate the age-related functional activities. Strength is the capacity of skeletal muscle to develop the amount of force needed to provide the musculoskeletal mobility and stability required for functional performance.1 Impairment in strength result in the symptom of weakness.

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Special Concerns

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  • A sudden onset of rapidly evolving weakness or progressive change in strength in combination with any of the following:

    • Abnormal reflexes

    • Cranial nerve signs

    • Visual disturbances

    • Language disturbances

    • Changes in level of consciousness

    • Confusion or other cognitive changes

  • Weakness accompanied by numbness or tingling

  • Weakness with paresthesias that are progressive and in a radicular pattern

  • Weakness accompanied by changes in bowel and bladder function

  • Weakness accompanied by signs or symptoms of systemic illness such as fever, diaphoresis, and anxiousness

  • Weakness accompanied by lower motor neuron disease signs such as fasciculations and noticeable atrophy

  • Weakness accompanied by severe, localized pain or generalized muscle pain

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CHAPTER PREVIEW: Conditions That May Lead to Weakness

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