Heavy Limbs

Hi All

I was just wondering if anyone has suffered with a heavy limb following their stroke.

My left leg (affected side) feels very heavy and I am not able to lift it more than a couple of centimetres despite all the exercises I am doing. The physio says it is unusual following a stroke to have heavy limbs. I never had it pre stroke so must be related somehow.

I am able to walk with a limp for short distances but often find my foot dragging. It drags more when I’m tired.

I’m at a loss with what to do to sort it. Despite working hard to sort it it isn’t making any progress.

Looking for any useful tips from you wonderful people :blush::blush:

Have a great Sunday everyone xx

@Loshy thank you. I think I’ll mention it at my review with consultant which I’m hoping won’t be much longer :rofl::rofl:


I think it must be ‘early days’ for your experience of stroke.
I could always be wrong here but it maybe that you misheard your physio, perhaps he/she said its not unusual to have ‘heavy limbs’.
If one or both of your limbs on one side feels ‘heavy’ and unresponsive it is probably an initial symptom of a paralysis that is common with a stroke. This is not permanent. Gradually, you will get back the use of the limb or limbs.
So if I am right then you are probably in a process that could take some time, more than just a day or two to correct.
Essentially a stroke is the result of an injury to the brain. Recovery is a question of things that the brain will do to put things back in order. This process begins when the injury occurs and will probably continue over a very long period.
I can talk only in very general terms as the severity of the injury the location of the injury and so on can vary so much from individual to individual.
The first treatment you will be receiving will consist of steps to ensure that your condition does not worsen. When this is assured then the work to recovery will begin. All of this is likely to take some time. Think months at least rather than days or weeks.
You will by taking medication, doing exercise and any other steps suggested by the professionals be able to help things along.
Take any offer of help that is tendered and if you feel like it look through these forums to gain an insight into the experience of others. None of us, I too experienced stroke, are treading the exact same path as another, but we can support one another and shared experience can show us a way to go.
I hope what I have written is of some use to you and I wish you all the best @Mrs5K

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@Bobbi thank you for your reply. I am 5 months into my stroke recovery & have been having physio for pretty much the whole time. She definitely said that stroke doesn’t usually cause heavy limbs & pointed me in the direction of a website relating to a condition called FND. She said a stroke can trigger that condition and told me to go away & read about it & let her know what I think at next session. She said I should also discuss it with my stroke consultant at my next review…whenever that may be.
I’ve been told conflicting things as some say heavy limbs after stroke does happen. I am researching it but wondered if others had experienced it.
Thank you for your support. It’s really helpful.
Best wishes

The feeling of heavy limbs is worse for me if I have to stand still for any length of time, eg, in a supermarket queue. I find that if I keep moving slowly then my legs feel less heavy. If I am next to a counter then I can use that as a prop to do some gentle leg exercises.
If I have my rollator with me then I just sit on it for a while.

@sunnyday is it both legs that feel heavy? Mine is just my left. Right leg completely normal. I struggle to stand for long periods. Like you better if I keep moving.
Are you able to lift your leg if for example you lie on a bed and lift it up? If someone lifts my leg for me then let’s it go it literally just falls straight down to the bed & I am not able to control it at all.

You may well have drop foot. I did after my stroke. I was referred to a limb rehab unit and fitted with an FES machine that sends an electric stimulus though the calf and lifts the floor. Not all health authorities fund this so check with your gp.

A heavy sensation in the limbs is quite common. I have ongoing heaviness in my left shoulder area despite having reasonable mobility in my left arm and shoulder. I live with it.

My own experience which could be entirely different is of two heavy limbs both on my right hand side. I had a stroke affecting the left of my brain.
Originally both limbs hung heavy and did not function. Now after three months of treatment some of the use is returning. I can walk with some help from a physio. My hand and arm are also responding well, though I think it will need quite a lot more work to get strength and good coordination back.

If what you are going through is similar then I suggest that exercising the limbs, at first while you lie in bed, on occasions and a dollop of patience, too, should after a while begin to produce results. Think days and weeks rather than minutes and hours. The wrecked area of the brain needs to do a lot of restructuring and exercise will encourage the process. Results won’t be immediately apparent but little by little you will experience change for the better.

@John_Jeff_Maynard thank you. I’m hearing it can be quite common but my physio said not. I am managing ok with it apart from dragging my foot & in meantime just continuing exercises to try & improve it.
I’ll look into the drop foot bit as that has also been mentioned to me before.
There’s so much to a stroke that you just never realise until you’ve had one.

@Ingo66 I’ve lost quite a lot of weight too so some of that probably muscle loss although my appetite isn’t great since stroke either.
My leg literally feels like a lead weight. I’m having trouble progressing with it now…when I’m back at work it’s going to be even harder. Seems everyone finds it difficult to keep up the exercise regime once back at work.
Keep working at it I’m sure you’ll make improvements- maybe just a bit slower.

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I currently wear an ankle support

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I can raise either leg for a few seconds when lying down. I can also raise either leg in a sitting position but some of the reason for doing this is thrombosis prevention. This was taught to me in hospital to help keep my circulation going and thus decrease the risk of more strokes.
If I sit still for too long my legs can be heavy in a similar way to standing still for any length of time. My Medical people have attributed my multiple small strokes due to my heart being in constant AF (atrial fibrillation).

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Yes, my left leg is still very heavy, thats after 6 years. My left arm is also too heavy and I need to use the right to lift it up and hold onto the top of a door frame to apply anti perspirant.
I would say that it appears to be getting worse, but I am guessing its down to recent weight gain and everything is getting heavier and the left side muscles are slowly wasting away.

Hi there.
I’m still battling with my right leg 8 years later. My stroke knocked out my right hip flexors, quads and hamstrings. I also have drop foot. I’m afraid the only thing that works is to regularly exercise it. The muscles do eventually respond, but it is a long hard slog. My leg doesn’t feel like a dead weight any more, but my gait is still very odd and, as you say, tiredness affects it. I’ve also noticed that if I have over-exercised my arm, then my leg seizes up as well!
Keep going. It will improve.

@Huntspete that’s a long time for the heaviness to remain. It must be very frustrating for you. Is it worth you getting a referral back to physio to see if you can reverse the muscle wastage?
Thank you for sharing your story x

@MinnieB thank you for sharing your experience. I am exercising my leg hard in the hope that it improves slowly. I think, as you say, if I don’t keep that up it will revert back again.
It’s reassuring to know there are others with heavy limbs as my physio made me feel like I was making it up (not that I want others to suffer of course).
Best wishes

I have a heavy left leg whic I can move forward with the irritating foot drop to give me a cumsy walk, better than the early paralysis so hoping it improve s as the brain rewiring happen s, good luck with your recovery

@mrfrederickson that sounds similar to me. I can move leg forward but my foot drags. I walk with a limp as a result.
Good luck with your recovery too.

I in hospital for X-ray on my right ankle

@sharris776 welcome to the forum. I hope your x-ray goes ok.
Look forward to hearing more from you.
Best wishes
Ann xx