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What is weakness in MS?

Weakness is a common symptom in multiple sclerosis. Weakness can affect other MS symptoms. Weakness and fatigue are closely linked and the one often worsens the other.  Weakness in one or both legs (called monoparesis or paraparesis) can cause problems with walking and balance.  It can also increase the risk of having a fall. A lack of strength can make bowel symptoms worse.

What causes weakness in MS?

Weakness can be a direct result of MS.  Damage to nerves can slow or disrupt messages, mainly within the spinal cord, making it harder to move your muscles effectively.  Weakness can also be caused indirectly.  If you are inactive and unfit, your muscles can become weaker.  An already weak muscle that is not used will become weaker.

What can I do if I have weakness?

Some of the ideas used to manage fatigue will also work when treating weakness.  These include prioritising activities and saving energy where possible.

For many years the advice to people with MS was to avoid exercise as it was thought his could make weakness and fatigue worse. It is now felt that exercise that works on gently building up endurance and strength in muscles is good for reducing weakness and fatigue.

physiotherapist can help you with exercises to build up strength.

An occupational therapist can advise you on equipment that helps you make the most of your available strength and ability.

Last updated: August 2018
Last reviewed: February 2016
This page will be reviewed within three years

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