A man walking

The Impact of Leg Weakness

Last updated: November 2022

A long time ago, while still in college, I awoke one morning and as I tried to leave my bed, I fell flat on my face. My legs seemingly gave out from under me as I tried to stand up. I was able to get up, but fell several more times that day as my legs would suddenly feel heavy and I’d be unable to use them. That was my first experience with multiple sclerosis and the symptom of muscle weakness. This weakness, particularly in my legs, has plagued me since the early days of my life with MS and has had a significant impact on my life.

It seemed impossible

When I first experienced leg weakness because of MS it was extremely confusing to me. I was probably the fittest I had ever been. At the time, I played hockey in college and was also an avid runner and weight lifter. My legs were strong and powerful back then, so when they were overcome with weakness, I had a hard time even comprehending what was happening.

In those early days, I actually thought that I had overdone it at the gym and that I needed more rest. Over time, the moments of weakness stopped being moments and both of my legs were heavy and unusable for a period of time that started to seem like it’d be permanent.

The unpredictability of leg weakness

Eventually, the MS exacerbation I was in ended and I was able to use my legs again. I have, however, experienced leg weakness throughout my life ever since that first episode. While it no longer persists for long stretches of time, it comes and goes, usually without warning.

Sometimes I will wake up and my legs will be weak all day. Other times, the duration will be short and come and go throughout the day. Like many MS symptoms, I can’t predict when my legs will be weak or not, which can lead to problems when it comes to making plans. The come-and-go nature of it has also caused me to fall numerous times during my life with MS.

What does MS leg weakness feel like?

When I experience leg weakness due to MS, my legs often feel very heavy and difficult to move. Sometimes it feels like my legs are encased in cement and weighed down. Trying to move them is extremely difficult and it feels like I’m not strong enough to lift them.

Usually it’s both of my legs, however, it will occasionally impact only one leg, which then leads to me limping and awkwardly dragging one leg along. There are also times when it doesn’t quite feel heavy, but instead feels like it’s not even there. I’ll go to move it or lift it, and it will be like it’s completely dead weight that I’m unable even to feel, let alone move.

The impact of living with leg weakness

Leg weakness has had a significant impact on my life. It has caused me to fall numerous times, which has led to many minor injuries. It means that sometimes I am unable to stand or even walk, which has led to difficulties working, driving, and even with simple tasks like getting up to use the bathroom. When you can’t consistently use your legs, your whole life gets interrupted.

It makes matters worse that I don’t look like anything is wrong with me, so people don’t expect me to fall or to require a seat. I now think about seating everywhere I go. I also factor in crowds because I know that as a still fairly young guy who looks like nothing is wrong with him, I will always be expected to give up my seat to someone else. Leg weakness is one MS symptom that has consistently caused me problems in my day-to-day life.

Thanks so much for reading and feel free to share! As always, I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!

Devin

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