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What are the causes of arm weakness ?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 1998
Answered : 1579 Questions
I am a 55 year old female, 5'6", 130 lbs., overall excellent health. I was diagnosed with pneumonia in my left lung about a month ago. It cleared up quickly with antibiotics. However, shortly after the pneumonia symptoms abated, I started having a stabbing pain in my back, like a knife behind my right shoulder blade. Having had pleurisy when I was young I thought that might be the cause of the pain, so I called my doctor who blew it off as a pulled muscle and told me to take Advil. Ten days ago I ended up in the ER because the pain was so bad. The diagnosis was pleurisy and I was given prednisone and vicodin for pain. The pain is much less acute, but I tried going to the gym, to walk on the treadmill with 7lb. hand weights, for the first time since becoming sick, and discovered that my right arm is extremely weak and shakey. It almost feels like I don't have full control over it. What might this be? Could this be from the pleurisy or something else? Should I be seeing a neurologist? Thank you in advance for your thoughts.
Posted Thu, 26 Apr 2012 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 1 hour later

Thanks for posting your query.

I agree with you because you need to get an examination done from a neurologist for these symptoms.

Arm weakness is a loss of strength in the arm and an important cause is infection of the soft tissue of the arm particularly when a predisposing infection was present.

It could have been due to pneumonia and pleurisy in your case but since the pneumonia was one month back, it is a less likely possibility.

Diseases of the neuromuscular system, injuries, metabolic diseases, and toxins can all cause of measurable muscle weakness. At your age, it is important to rule out any Diabetes, Hypertension, Brachial plexus cause as well as an impending Stroke.

You should consult a neurologist and get a neurological examination, MRI scan and a NCV (nerve conduction velocity) and EPS (electrophysiological study) done to rule out the neurological causes.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your queries.

Wishing you good health.


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