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Sudden Weakness in arms
In the last few months I have been getting a sudden weakness in both arms.  It comes on suddenly and lasts a maximum of 5 minutes.  When it happens I cannot lift anything.  I feel so weak that I have to sit or lie down until it passes.  This week it hit me twice.  Before these 2 incidents, the last time this happened was a month ago and before that was probably another month (2 times in a week).  The sensation is from the shoulders down to my hands.  Any ideas?

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This may help. I also have had these symptoms for about a year. I have been admitted 2 times and have had every test for heart, tia  etc. I must also say I do have mid c4 problem. But I noticed I had tested positive for rheumatoid factor 2 times and a Positive Rnp test So I went to a Rheum Dr  and he ran a million blood tests and I have since been diagnosed recently with MCTD which is autoimmune and I noticed other people on here have mentioned Autoimmune issues, so I am thinking this is connected, maybe polymyositis? or something yet to be named? as we all seem to have it but Dr's don't know what it is. The transverse myelitis that someone mentioned seemed interesting. So try to list all symptoms you have had in the last 5 -10 yrs together. fatigue? any warm feelings feet, legs , muscle twitches, can affect heart, lungs, skin problems. Anyway I just started taking  methotrexate and prednisone. I hear it can take 3 mths to help if at all then on to the next med. Hope this helps a little. Good luck to everyone and post back if you find anything else.
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Hi everyone.
I have had two of these attacks, just as many of you have described; beginning in the shoulders and a strange sensation down each arm simultaneously which leaves the arms heavy and floppy and my head feeling light.
Both times I have been sitting down working....not on a computer but the same sort of posture.
I went to a cranial osteopath I know (who also has a full doctor's training)
and he thought my overall health was fine but he DIAGNOSED that the top half of my body, especially my shoulders and neck, were very rigid and unrelaxed. He thought it was related to that and relaxed me a bit and gave me two things to do.
To lie on the floor, or across a bed, with my arms above my head slightly apart like a Y to stretch my upper body for a few minutes a couple of times a day. He also said to check where my shoulders were when I was sitting, standing or walking. They must be down....not hunched up around my ears!
This is to do with restricted blood flow perhaps?
Anyway I thought this might be helpful if the Docs can't find anything else wrong.
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I began having the sensation of my arms being so heavy I could not lift them about a month ago.  I though I was going crazy that it was in my head.  After about 5 such instances, I decided to search today to see what is going on.  I have not told anyone.  Then I see all these comments.  I see several entries about 'spinal.'  
I never had attributed mine to spinal; however, last week I wend to an orthopedic doctor because of pain in my right hip.  Turns out because of heredity and possible spinal injury when I was young, my spring curves 25% to the left at the waist.  I am thinking this is somehow connected to the weightiness of my arms.
In addition, it is mentioned about reflux.  I take reflux meds daily.
I plan to discontinue my reflux meds immediately to see if that helps.  But I also plan to mention this to my Orthopedic Dr at my next visit (who, by the way, says I will eventually have to have surgery on my spine because several disks are bone on bone.
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12556624 tn?1425933646
This has happened to me three times now in the last few months, and i have noticed that it happens when I'm real tense and then all of a sudden i relax...today i was sitting at my desk at work and in a position where my shoulders were tense, the phone rang and i had to tell my boss to answer because i could not use my arms, they were so weak and i felt like i was going to faint.  Lasted about 5 min...the rest of the afternoon, I've felt cold and not right but it might be from trying to 'recover' that feeling.  I did notice my pulse was slow as i recovered from it.
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Has anyone seen a chiropractor? My first thought was possible polyneuropathy however everones lab work is fine and no one has history of lymes disease or diabetes mellitus. So i may be TOS which is thoracic outlet syndrome. It can be caused by tight muscles in neck, chest, or ever a cervical rib. It can casue neurological problems like you are describing and vascular ones as well. This can result from poor posture and it seems like alot of you are sitting at your desks for long periods of the day. Symptoms are insidious and can happen more often with over the head activities. Just a though
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Has anyone seen a chiropractor? My first thought was possible polyneuropathy however everones lab work is fine and no one has history of lymes disease or diabetes mellitus. So i may be TOS which is thoracic outlet syndrome. It can be caused by tight muscles in neck, chest, or ever a cervical rib. It can casue neurological problems like you are describing and vascular ones as well. This can result from poor posture and it seems like alot of you are sitting at your desks for long periods of the day. Symptoms are insidious and can happen more often with over the head activities. Just a though
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One should also consider a possible syringomyelia if it is bilateral or something called t4 syndrome.
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I've been having these same episodes for a couple of years now.  One doctor suggested they were caused by a restricted blood flow, another that it's related to drop in blood pressure, but no one seems to really know for sure.  My chiropractor has been adjusting a part of my back that is very tight so I'm guessing that, since it hadn't happened in months for me, it's related to needing and adjustment.  OR what someone said about a virus that is attacking us when we are weaker.  I am coming down with a head cold and definitely am feeling a little bit under the weather.
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I sure wish I knew what is happening. Standing in my kitchen, a strange sensation came over me, felt weak, head floating but most alarming both arms from the elbow down became very heavy and weak. Almost felt like it was pulling me down. It passed but aprox an hour later the exact same thing. Doctors just say nothing's wrong and send you on.
Very frustrated, worried and don't know where to turn.
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First episode I was removing a sheet of cookies out of oven and could barely lift to top of stove because bilateral arms went weak. I just stood there waiting and the  strength came back within minutes. A year later , same problems with arms numb.  Sometimes vibrating sensation through out body woke me at night. I didn't realize I was dropping things alittle more frequent which can be a symptom.My dr did an mri and diagnosised me with cervical stenosis. My spinal cord was still intact but when I did certain movements with my head, he explained it ....that I was pinching and  bruising my spinal cord.  I just had a 2 level cervical fusion to prevent injury to my spinal cord and progression on my stenosis and myopathy before it became permanent.
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I have had the sudden bilateral arm weakness that lasts only minutes several times and a strang buzzing feeling throughout body that would wake me.  I didn't realize I was dropping things alittle more frequently until  my dr inquired. An Mri was done on my neck and I was diagnosised with cervical stenosis .  When I would do certain head movements, I was pressing on my spinal cord and bruising it.  You do not have to have neck pain to have cervical stenosis . I elected to have a 2 level fusion to prevent further bruising and permanent damage to my spinal cord.  Non surgical treatment are available if diagnosised early but a lot of times , cervical stenosis is not diagnosised until late because the symptoms come on so gradual, you just dismiss them as getting old.








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This is exactly what has been happening to me for 3+ years now, and haven't found out why. Did you ever find out the reason for yours?
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That's me... still going to the doctor getting poked and prodded with no real answers yet... they went depression, then heart, then sleep apnea(which, apparently I have, haven't started CPAP yet, but walking the treadmill during the Stress Test had no ill effects... it was lifting my arms and changing from my gown back to my street clothes is when I practically fell over.  Walked as rapidly around two city blocks... nothing... went to change the sheet on the bed?  About wanted someone to shoot me, my arms ached SO bad... started crying I felt so exhausted and hadn't even gotten to the 3rd corner of the sheet before I was crying for help.  Feel it in my neck, shoulders, arms, hands... break out in a cold sweat, feel queasy, dizzy and just all out of sorts, like a flood of weights from my head on down.
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That's me... still going to the doctor getting poked and prodded with no real answers yet... they went depression, then heart, then sleep apnea(which, apparently I have, haven't started CPAP yet, but walking the treadmill during the Stress Test had no ill effects... it was lifting my arms and changing from my gown back to my street clothes is when I practically fell over.  Walked as rapidly around two city blocks... nothing... went to change the sheet on the bed?  About wanted someone to shoot me, my arms ached SO bad... started crying I felt so exhausted and hadn't even gotten to the 3rd corner of the sheet before I was crying for help.  Feel it in my neck, shoulders, arms, hands... break out in a cold sweat, feel queasy, dizzy and just all out of sorts, like a flood of weights from my head on down.
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Ditto
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I have the same, going through all the tests... heart's great, thyroid is great, have high cholesterol and sleep apnea... but so far, not much for answers.
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I did, mine is fine... or at least that is what they told me... all blood work is fine, heart fine, cholesterol high, overweight (not severely but overweight none the less) severe sleep apnea (not using CPAP yet so I don't know if it will help this problem yet)  they did ask me if I had injured my neck, which I don't remember doing so, if I did.
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I also did a search for my symptoms and came across the same... My answer to the Guillain-Barre Syndrome possibility was nixed when it kept saying it starts in the feet and legs... mine always starts with and stays with the arms, chest, neck and head... it doesn't appear to travel down to the legs... I can walk with no problem... but putting dishes in the dishwasher? changing sheets on the bed? brushing my hair?  This has something to do around the arms and neck... so I ruled out Guillain-Barre... doesn't mean I am a doctor and I DON'T have it, just that I don't relate to those particular symptoms dealing mainly in the legs.
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Yes, these episodes started approx 2 months ago after I started taking 3 different meds:  all started 3 months ago... I went in with depression, fatigue, queasiness, dizziness, earache, frequent and long lasting headaches behind right eye, face flushing, excessive crying and general malaise.. I was guessing Menopause, accompanied by a toothache maybe. as I am 51 and my rhythms were wonky.  

I figured I would leave with some Estrogen Tabs maybe an antibiotic and call it a day.  

Doc didn't think it was Menopause.  I was put on Sertraline (Zoloft) 50mg... soon after the Zoloft they saw in my blood test results, I had perfectly normal blood work back except a very high cholesterol count (400) so, at my first follow-up, they put me on Atorvastatin (Lipitor) 80mg also during this visit I was complaining that the Zoloft seemed to make the queasiness worse and as before... Pepto and other Antacids didn't make a dent, but Travel Sickness pills seemed to take the edge off... and asked if my initial problem had to do with something wrong in my inner ear... Doc said probably not after peering into them... so Doc gave me a script for Omeprazole (Prilosec) 40mg for the dizziness and queasiness too.  

Since begining all these, in the last 3 months... I have had the sudden onset of these "heavy arms" and positively frightening fatigue (upper body only), migraine, light flashes, fever-like sweats during minimal effort, chest, eye and neck pain and the quesiness is still hanging around... seems the Prilosec isn't even helping anymore.

Due to the mention of dizziness and chest pains, had a stress test that went without a hitch.  ECHO was showing a perfectly healthy heart.  So now what... I have had insomnia since the age of 7, so I was sent to do a sleep study.  Found I have moderate to severe Sleep Apnea... was recommended I get a CPAP right away... have yet to get one as the paperwork has found a snag.  I was told by the sleep folks that I may need none of the meds and that the CPAP may make a new woman of me.  

During my wait for the machine, I told them about the "heavy arms" (Didn't have this symptom prior, that I recall) and she asked if I had injured my neck... not to my knowledge.  So, here we are.  Perhaps it IS a side effect of the Lipitor... I didn't have this problem before and wonder, now, why I went to the Doc's, as I feel worse now than I did before.  

BTW the Zoloft made me stop crying so much, stop caring about much, made me a bit scatterbrained with loss of concentration and I feel more tired than before.  I am not sure what symptoms are coming from where and caused by what anymore... It's hard to pinpoint any of them because they all came on the scene around the same time.  But maybe if you are experiencing this stuff and just started Lipitor maybe we have a link.

I am hyper-sensitive to many things, break out in rashes easily and have many allergies... perhaps this is an allergic reaction to Lipitor.  Lord knows, if anyone can be allergic to it, I'm your Huckleberry.

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wish you all had the answer, I read the first comment and it was like I had written it. Today was my second episode, sudden pain and weakness in my shoulders traveling to my wrists, all in the tops of my arms, so probably not involving the artery which runs under the arm. Lasting 2-3 minutes and fading to nothing. I recently had a cardiac stent (days after the first episode so thought they were related). It is not lipitor RX since I just started that, thyroid medicines control my thyroid, I'm past menapause so not that and otherwise in good health. So what is this? More importantly what if I am driving the next time it happens, Why are there no warning signs. Wish I had the answer.
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Can't taste food as well either.
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This is known as Cervical radiculopathy. A pinched nerve in the neck and is treatable with physical therapy or  Chiropractic care. Get an MRI to be sure that is the cause, and not something else.
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I have had the same shoulders., both arms pain and weakness, they say I have RA. I can't text on my arms not sit up in the bed. I need several pillows for comfort
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No one has MS.. At least not with these symptoms. So rest assured. I've had these episodes, starting at biceps down to hands, exactly like everyone else. It is horrible. I have had them for about 5 years. But they come in spurts, maybe 4-6 at most in a year. My thyroid, BP, et all, are checked about every 6 weeks. All is well. BUT, I do have severe arthritis in my neck, and my neck is in tilted down position every day (computer,etc) so, you have all made me wonder if it IS a neck thing. Sorry that so many have this problem as it is very scary. Maybe this community will finally find an answer. God Bless and keep searching. We all need each other.


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I have read that those medicines cause magnesium deficiency which affects muscles. It cant hurt to try it. I have heard some people got relief by taking a supplement
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I agree with this. I have been experiencing this for years, and following a shiatsu session it disappeared for a long time, and now it is back again. I also experiment with raising my arms or lowering my arms to see if that makes a difference. I worked as a jewellery maker and weaver for many years, so lots of neck bending. I find that by doing upper body stretching / simple yoga and  focusing on spinal / nack  twists and arching of the body backwards / opening the chest etc makes the episodes go  away.
I am convinced it's a muscular skeletal / compressed nerve thing that can be addressed by strectching
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I agree with this. I have been experiencing this for years, and following a shiatsu session it disappeared for a long time, and now it is back again. I also experiment with raising my arms or lowering my arms to see if that makes a difference. I worked as a jewellery maker and weaver for many years, so lots of neck bending. I find that by doing upper body stretching / simple yoga and  focusing on spinal / nack  twists and arching of the body backwards / opening the chest etc makes the episodes go  away.
I am convinced it's a muscular skeletal / compressed nerve thing that can be addressed by strectching
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thank you for giving this a name. This is the most helpful comment i have read on any forum, and i have been following it on and off for years. Pity out doctors are so in the dark
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Linda....thank god you are off the meds.What were they thinking ???? !!!  This is all about compression which can be alleviated by simple yoga exercises  which involved twisting the spine and neck and arching the body back. You could go to a chirprator or a shiatsu practitioner or even a good yoga teacher, but you can only stop these episodes by relieving the presure through exercise. I know because that is how i stop them and i been having them for years. Good luck
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http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/neck-pain/what-cervical-radiculopathy

this diagnosis sounds spot on to me
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Getting up once in the middle of the night, I experienced the symptom of sudden weakness in both arms, lasting only a few minutes. Very scary!

After reading the comments in this thread -- especially the ones about being helped by a chiropractor -- I decided it had something to do with a pinched nerve around the shoulders or neck. I had recently been doing an exercise of lifting small weights above my head while standing, and I guessed this had been compressing my spine. So, I did some stretching and twisting to loosen my spine and also changed that weight-lifting exercise so I was lying on my back instead of standing.

This was maybe three months ago, and I have not had a recurrence. I hope this experience helps someone else.
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i
  I do agree with you..i have save symptons..no answers..
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I am so elated and feel so "not crazy" after finding this thread! Same exact symptoms as everyone else... Heat, uniform numbness then weakness down by arms.  Episodes lasted around a minute. I went to the ER the first time and stayed for a day with every test done and coming out clean. I work out 5-6 days a week and I kept telling the doctors I thought it was related to a rex met pinched nerve in my back. I told 3 different doctors the same thing. I finally did screw it, I'm going to a chiropractor where I can at least tackle one of my issues. He was the only one who thought that they were related. Between stress and recent back injury he felt it was a combo of the two. After my adjustment I've not had another episode. I must say the common thread I've read on this thread has always been a chiropractor. Before it happened to me I was convinced they were quacks but in my case, it saved me from these scary episodes. I hope this helps and yes, initially I thought I was having a stroke even though I'm fit and 40. What a relief to find this thread and know I'm not alone.
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oh my gosh I feel the same. the pain has been so intence I have been to the ER 2 times. they have done a heart check ( my heart is great) they also did a CT scan and they say I have DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE. For now only medication and rest helps. I am only 62 years old and this has made me feel like my life is over, because I cannot deal with the pain when these full episodes happen. i will be trying chyropractic soon,
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My neurologist points to degenerative C4-C6.  As well I had many Radiation treatments in the neck area (50) for cancer.  I probably will have this for the rest of my days but I am trying to cope. as best I can.
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My neurologist points to degenerative C4-C6.  As well I had many Radiation treatments in the neck area (50) for cancer.  I probably will have this for the rest of my days but I am trying to cope. as best I can.
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I had these sudden, intense weakness of arms & shoulders, the absolute need to sit down and shakiness of hands.  This lasted from 2 to 5 minutes, when it went away, but I felt completely drained and tired for awhile afterward. This went on for a couple of months, varying as to how many times per day, then went a week without any, then my right side of my body just quit on me without warning.  In the ER they first thought I was having a stroke, but it turned out not to be that at all.  An MRI found that I had Transverse Myelitis, which is inflammation of the spinal column, in my cervical (neck) area.  Massive doses of Steroids were given to me for 5 days, and I started seeing minor improvements, and now after an 8 day hospital stay, and 20 days in rehab, I can use a walker to get around and am continuing to improve every day, and hoping I will fully get back to normal, but don't know yet. I'm trying very hard.  I am age 79 female.
  
For the past year, I had been having neck pain, like a "crick" that won't go away, then the extreme arm heaviness for 2+ months recently, before it led to my entire right side quitting on me.  Taking the steroids is another whole story, but I won't go into that here because it can vary among persons, and it was something I needed to take to help remedy my problem.  I hope this sheds some light on these strange, intense feelings of heaviness in the arms that hit without warning.      
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I have the same thing - It has been getting worse.  I just went to the neurologist and awaiting my blood results and EMG results.  On the EMG when I took the test he said that day I have bilateral peripheral neuropathy in both arms.  I took Cipro and Levaquinn in 2007 and was diagnosed with this in my legs.  Cipro and Levauinn causes peripheral neuropathy.  I never had the test in my arms until now.
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I've had two recent episodes of weakness and "floppiness" down both arms/biceps and down the backs of both hands to the first two fingers on each hand, plus across my upper chest, and general dizziness, so that I sit or lean on something for a few minutes until it passes.  I was afraid of MS. See http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/94118-treatment. After reading that and a few other articles on cervical radiculopathy, I've concluded that I should take NSAIDs for a week and pay more attention to whether my pillow is causing me to sleep with my neck at an angle instead of in line with my spine.
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I'm so scared last summer was the first time this happened to me I was cooking and the odd feeling  numbness in both arms and tingling in hands weakness thought I was going to faint caused me to put down the utensils and just stand there in array for approx. I min than it went away now this week I've had 4 episodes this morn out of bed first thing I did is bend over to feed the cat it happened it goes away fast but you can feel the travel of the numbness go from upper to lower part of arms than headache I m not sure which Doc to see until I can describe the symptoms  better
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I've had this problem too, for the past couple of years.   I experience tingling and cramping in both arms which become very weak and fall to my sides. The cramping extends to my chest and back. I feel lightheaded I need to sit down or lie down. The whole episode lasts for approximately 30 seconds. I have no idea what causes this and have not been able to find a correlation to anything I'm doing or medicine that I'm taking.
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Hi! I had the same symptoms and after reading a lot of these posts, I went to my chiropractor to check my neck/cervical area.  After hearing my symptoms (sudden heaviness in both arms) she checked my neck and adjusted my C1 joint which affects that area and was really stuck.  She suggested that I take some B-complex as the symptoms could also be indicative of a vitamin B-deficiency, and to go see my doctor as well.  I don't know why I didn't think of that before--Vitamin B is responsible for so many functions including cell metabolism. Check out WebMD for symptoms of deficiency. Weakness in the limbs is one of them!  Vitamin B complex is easy to find at your grocery store or CVS. I hope you all find this helpful and feel better soon!
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wtx
For 10 yrs I have had these symptoms, but not often.  After about a year, I have had 2 in the last 3 wks. I had EKG, chest x-rays, angiogram, cardioscope, stress test, carotid artery scope.  This all resulted in NOTHING! No  diagnosis. I have found no related foods, times of day, or anything. It just happens when it happens. My family doctor and cardiologist act like they have never heard these symptoms before.  I am giving them this http.  Some of you explain it better.
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If you take antidepressants such as amitriptyline 10 mg like I was for migraine I believe this was causing it. I stopped and have no symptoms since. Also sinus sprays such as otrivine seems to cause it too.
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I have had  4 episodes since July 1, 2016.   I started taking Cymbalta to help my nerve problems in my legs.   Cymbalta (antidepressant) made me feel funky and then these episodes began.  I'm also using a topical steroid called "Fluocinonide" to help with itching.  I read that both medications can cause "tiredness" and "weakness."   I only took 1 20mg Cymbalta and stopped taking it.   But I have been using the topical steroid (very little) and wondering whether these medications are to blame.
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I suffered from bilateral arm pain and weakness for years, and I have finally found the solution for me, and it is posture related. I heard about a women who studied people in small villages around the world who had no back pain, so I ordered her book and made some adjustments to my posture. I haven't had an episode since. "8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back," by Esther Gokhale.
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I actually had this happen for the first time a week and a half ago and went to the ER where they ran a bunch of tests and everything was fine. Had a stress test done Monday and everything looked perfect. Weirdest thing ever. Have you found an answer yet???
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I recently experienced an attack very very similar to what you describe here. All tests come back perfectly healthy. I am wondering if you have ever been able to find answers to what you were experiencing? Thanks!
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I have this same thing and it s exactly like you said - arms extremely weak and very hot and it goes into my chest. Today my cardiologist hooked me up to a heart monitor and I just hope it happens while I am wearing it. I had 4- way bypass last month, but it was happening before that. When it happens to me, I feel incapacitated and like I freeze up for a while. It is quite scary.
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I just had my 3rd or 4th episode in the past year.  I can tell it's coming.  Everything in my shoulders and arms goes weak.It affects my chest and my back and my head sometimes tingles.  I haven't said anything to my family because they will work hard to get me to have all of these tests.  I am reading what everyone says and I'm going to start monitoring.  I think it happens mainly when I am exhausted.  I also have degenerative disc disease so will bring this up to my chiropractor whom I see regularly.  The episode only lasts for about a minute, but I have to throw my body over a counter or table that's close.  It goes away but the general malaise in the muscles lasts for awhile longer.  I was happy to find this post.  THank you everyone for sharing.  I take no meds (I'm 71) except for Nexium from time to time and Ambien.  
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Sudden numbness, stiffness, pain, and a general inability to use both arms is typically due to Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), and is often seen in older individuals.  I have the "events" at random times, and the events can occur days apart from each other.  The pain/numbness comes on very sudden and usually lasts for a few minutes, say ten to fifteen.  When it happens, I am unable to lift or use my arms and have to quickly find a place to sit, or stand still, and wait for the initial pain rush to pass.
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I too suffer from this, totally at random from my shoulders to my elbows my arms feel like a lead weight and I cannot move them, I have to where possible sit down and bend forward resting my arms against my body until the pain disappears at other times I have to rest arms on anything handy even when I am out walking etc. and no doubt look silly holding my arms against a wall or litter bin etc.. These attacks take place very random every few months, twice in a day, just recently I have started to run a brief diary on when it happens and what I am doing when it happens and how long it takes to get back to normal. About 6 years ago I had Legionella and these attacks only started after the infection was gone from my body, my neurology consultant could not understand why this was happening and only now I am thinking of going back to the doctors to see if I can find an answer.....
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Me too! It seems funny that so many of us are having similar problems,  yet "nothing is wrong" according to traditional medicine.  I did notice some comments about posture and neck issues being their cause.  May have to go see chiropractor then for myself.  Only had 2 spells but has been during the last 2 weeks.  It's disturbing to get this feeling.  So weak and difficult to life arms, shoulders to elbows.  Wrists and hands feel fine.
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Have your B12 checked. I suffer from low B12 and sudden weakness in the arms is one of the side effects along with sudden fatigue. It gets so bad that it's really unpleasant to look through clothing on a clothes rail (just an example). You can either take vitamin B12 supplements for this or if those don't work, regular B12 shots. Consult your doctor first though as a simple blood test will confirm or rule out B12 deficiency.
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I have almost the same thing only it starts in my hands and moves up it subsides if I'm able to lie down.  It used to happen just once in a great while and for some reason lately more often , it's happened five times today and I have a headache and my neck feels stiff.
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