What is motor weakness? Same as muscle weakness?

by Dr. David Watson & Teri Robert Health Professional & Patient Advocate

Full Question:

What exactly is motor weakness? Is it the same as muscle weakness?

I have been told I have hemiplegic migraines. I suffer from slurred speech and difficulty talking as well as a loss of consciousness causing mini black outs, on a couple of occasions. My left arm is affected and becomes very weak and tired although I can still move it (reluctantly!) I also have numbness and pins and needles; so is this motor weakness or muscle problems? I usually end up with my left arm resting across me for the duration of the migraine. Could it be basilar migraine instead? I also have M.E. the symptoms of which worsen during a migraine attack. When the headache is severe I am hardly able to walk. Is this likely to be connected with the migraine? rosy.


Dear Rosy;

Yes, motor weakness is essentially the same thing as the muscles being temporarily weak. This is a symptom that has to be explained carefully. Sometimes, people mistake numbness for weakness.

If this IS Migraine, and there is motor weakness, it would be hemiplegic Migraine. Basilar-Type Migraine does not cause motor weakness or paralysis. Doctors often have difficulty deciding the diagnosis between basilar and hemiplegic. Motor weakness or paralysis can be the deciding factor in diagnosis.

Yes, hemiplegic Migraine can make it difficult to walk during a Migraine, but you'll need to check this out with your doctor too as CE can complicate matters.

We can share this info with you, but the diagnosis needs to be mad by your doctor.

Good luck,
John Claude Krusz and Teri Robert

About Ask the Clinician:

Dr. Krusz is a recognized expert in the fields of headache and Migraine treatment and pain treatment. Each week, he and Lead Expert Teri Robert, team up to answer your questions about headaches and Migraines. You can read more about Dr. Krusz or more about Teri Robert.

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Dr. David Watson & Teri Robert
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Dr. David Watson & Teri Robert

Do you have questions about Migraine? Reader questions are answered by UCNS certified Migraine and headache specialist Dr. David Watson, and award-winning patient educator and advocate Teri Robert.