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Symptom Management >Fatigue/Weakness of Limbs

About Fatigue/Weakness of Limbs

Possible causes

  • Cancer and its related treatments may induce fatigue and limbs weakness
  • Caused by anaemia, electrolyte imbalance, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, endocrine disorders
  • Side effects of opioids
  • Fatigue is a common symptom especially in the last few days of life. It can also be counted as a normal process at the end of life

Non-medical Treatment

Healthcare professionals will provide appropriate treatment in fatigue management based on the causes of the symptom.

Pain, infection, anaemia, medications, pre-existing comorbidities, fluids or electrolyte or endocrine disorders
Please consult the medical team for treatment
Mood disorder
Medications or psychological therapy (please consult the medical team)
Diet therapy (Browse Caring Tips > Food and nutrition)
Sleep disorder
Improve insomnia (Browse Symptom management > Insomnia)
Imbalance of daily life routine
Occupational lifestyle re-design – Occupational Therapy(Browse Caring tips > Psychosocial support)
Physical weakness
Physiotherapy (see below for details)

Treatments for physical weakness:

Exercise therapy

If the decrease in limb sensation and muscle strength is due to problems in the nervous system, the patient can do more stretching exercises and active exercises to maintain a certain level of muscle strength and sensation.

  1. Stretching exercise
    • Purpose: Relieve the tense muscles and increase joint flexibility, thereby increasing blood circulation and improving muscle pain
    • Method: Do some stretching exercises slowly until you feel a slightly tight sensation; stay in that position for 10 to 15 seconds
    1. Tilt your head
    2. Shrug your shoulders
    3. Raise your hands
    4. Stretch your arms to the front
    5. Raise one arm up and keep the other down
    6. twist your waist
    7. Put your palms together, point your fingertips upwards
    8. Put your palms together, point your fingertips upwards
    9. Push your waist towards the front
    10. Tilt your waist
  2. Active exercise
    • Do some simple exercises for 10 to 15 minutes every day
    • Try to do it step by step; start with a shorter exercise time and gradually increase up to 15 minutes
    • If you feel too exhausted or your heatbeat is too fast or too slow (over 100 or below 60), you should take a break. If the situation does not improve, consult your medical team
    Tilt your head to both sidesturn your head from one side to another Straighten your elbows and bend them againRaise your shoulders forwardRaise your shoulders to the side Bend and straighten your legs Twist your waist to the left and right Move your ankles up and down
Walking exercise

Key points of walking exercise: After the patients have learnt to use a walking aid, they can gradually try to do walking exercise.

  1. Walk by the bed/chair
  2. Walk from the side of the chair to about 10 meters away
  3. Increase the walking distance indoors
  4. Take a walk outdoor

Consult the physiotherapist if the patient feels unwell (such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, pale face).

Breathing techniques

Breathing techniques can also help relieve the symptoms. Browse Symptom management> Difficulty breathing/Shortness of breath for more details.

Consult your therapist in case of any questions. Other relevant information:

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