Leg Weakness Symptoms

A lack of muscular strength may cause the legs to feel weak or unable to support the body’s weight. It can be caused by many different disorders, such as bilateral sciatica, which affects the muscles in both legs. It may also be caused by a spinal injury. Weakness in the leg may also result from nerve damage, brain injury or spinal malfunction. Leg weakness can resemble many different disorders, including stroke.

A woman is sitting in a wheelchair. (Image: ERproductions Ltd/Blend Images/Getty Images)

Numbness and Tingling

An early indicator of weakness in the legs is a tingling or numbing sensation. Numbness is a loss of feeling in the legs that may make it difficult to walk. It may also cause a patient to drag their legs or feet when they walk because of the loss of feeling. This symptom is usually the first symptom of leg weakness. According to Medline Plus, numbness and tingling in the legs could be caused by pressure that is placed on the nerves. Medline Plus also recommends seeing a doctor if the numbness in the leg seems to get worse with movement such as walking or from standing.

Back Pain

Another symptom of leg weakness is back pain, which can be caused by numerous disorders. Back pain that affects the legs' ability to move or function properly usually starts in the lower back. A pinched nerve in the lower back, also known as the sciatic nerve, can cause a dull pain in the back, thus causing the muscles in the legs to become weak. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, lower back pain that has caused neurological damage can also result in leg weakness and pain to move through the top and bottoms of the leg as well.


Falling or the fear of falling with leg weakness is very common. Leg muscles that are not strong enough to carry the body’s weight may cause an individual to fall before walking begins. Weakness in the leg may cause the leg to feel heavy or limp, making it difficult to walk properly. According to Neurosymptoms.org, an individual experiencing leg weakness may appear as if they have had a stroke. However, unlike a stroke, an individual is still able to feel their legs and may also have normal reflexes in the leg. Individuals suffering from leg weakness often will find it difficult to walk properly, which may result in occasional falling.

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