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When you are experiencing leg weakness, it is easy to fear the unknown. How independent can you be with leg weakness? How will you participate in activities that you love?

There are many ways to treat leg weakness and help alleviate symptoms.

In this guide, we will share treatment options available to you and explain how physical therapy can help make a difference in your life.

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physical therapy exercises for leg weakness

What Is Leg Weakness?

Leg weakness refers to a general feeling of weakness or instability in one or both of the legs. Leg weakness occurs when muscles in the legs lose their strength. Leg weakness can be a permanent condition or something that can be corrected based on the underlying cause.

Below, we will cover conditions that can lead to leg weakness.

What Causes Leg Weakness?

Leg weakness is often caused by neuromuscular diseases, such as:

  • Myasthenia gravis – An autoimmune disorder that can cause debilitating fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Multiple sclerosis – A disease that affects the brain and spinal cord and can lead to loss of coordination and balance as well as muscle weakness
  • Graves’ disease – A disease caused when the thyroid produces too many hormones, leading to weight loss, mental and physical fatigue, and muscle weakness
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome – A condition where the immune system attacks cells in the peripheral nervous system, leading to weakness, numbness, and paralysis

Other conditions that can cause leg weakness include:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Herniated discs
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Hypotonia
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • And more

Note: Sudden leg weakness can be a sign of a stroke. If you are experiencing sudden leg weakness and other stroke symptoms, you should seek emergency care immediately.

Leg Weakness Symptoms

Leg weakness can be accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Swelling
  • Burning and tingling sensations
  • Twitching
  • And more

If you experience leg weakness, it is important to seek care from a medical professional to rule out any other ailments that may cause leg weakness.

Leg Weakness Treatment

There are many different treatment options for leg weakness. Treatments for leg weakness can vary based on the underlying cause. Below, we will highlight the most common treatments for leg weakness.

Medications

Different medications can be described to help with leg weakness based on the underlying cause. For example, if your leg weakness is caused by hyperthyroidism, you may be prescribed levothyroxine.

Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen can also be used to treat pain associated with leg weakness.

Surgery

Some conditions that cause leg weakness can be treated with surgery, such as hyperthyroidism or a herniated disc.

Physical Therapy

Not all conditions that cause leg weakness can be corrected by surgery or managed with medication. Physical therapy can help strengthen leg muscles and help patients retain as much independence as possible.

Dietary Changes

For those who experience leg weakness due to electrolyte imbalances, dietary modifications can help. A physician may prescribe supplements like:

  • Calcium 
  • Magnesium oxide
  • Potassium oxide

Mobility Aids

Leg weakness can make it difficult to walk and can increase the risk of falling. Mobility aids like a walker or a wheelchair may be prescribed to make moving around easier for the patient.

Physical Therapy for Weak Legs – Will PT Help?

Yes! The main goal of physical therapy for leg weakness is to help strengthen the weakened leg muscles, retain range of motion in the legs, and help the patient meet personal treatment goals.

Physical therapy for weak legs can look different based on the cause of the leg weakness. An experienced physical therapist can create a customized treatment plan that focuses on your specific symptoms, goals, and physical abilities.

Best Physical Therapy Exercises for Leg Weakness

It is important to consult with a Doctor of Physical Therapy before attempting any of these exercises on your own. 

Prescribed physical therapy exercises can vary depending on the needs and physical capabilities of each individual patient. Below, we will share some common physical therapy exercises for leg weakness.

Hamstring Exercises

Your hamstrings are vital when it comes to being able to move your leg freely. Hamstrings make it possible for you to bend your knee and extend your hips backward. 

Hamstring exercises can help strengthen the legs to alleviate pain and make walking easier. To help strengthen the hamstring, your physical therapist may prescribe a series of exercises focused on using this group of muscles.

Glute and Hip Exercises

You may be wondering how strengthening your glutes and hips helps with leg weakness.

Working out these muscles helps increase circulation to the legs, which is essential in alleviating pain caused by leg weakness and making it easier to focus on exercising the muscles in the legs.

Your physical therapist may prescribe a series of glute and hip exercises based on your physical ability. 

Gait Training

With some conditions like Guillain-Barré syndrome, strength in the legs can be restored over time. Gait training can be paired with range of motion and strengthening exercises to help patients relearn how to engage the muscles needed to walk in their legs.

How In Motion O.C. Can Help With Leg Weakness?

Leg weakness can be debilitating and make it difficult to participate in daily activities you enjoy.

At In Motion O.C., we have treated hundreds of patients with leg weakness to help increase their quality of life. As the #1 rated physical therapy clinic on Yelp! and Google, we are confident that we can help you. 

Don’t let your leg weakness get you down. Request a free screening at one of our physical therapy clinic locations and work with our therapists to see how a customized treatment plan can help address your leg weakness. 

In Motion O.C.