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Sudden Weakness with Pushing Exercises

Hey all, I was wondering if any of you have experienced this sort of thing before. My strength in the gym was gradually decreasing over a period of about a month. I discovered I had an ear infection and took a 10 day course of antibiotics. I also gave my body a break from lifting during that time.

Upon returning to the gym I experienced a significant decrease in strength. I’m talking over an 80% decrease on pushing exercises. I chalked this up to being away from lifting, the infection and the antibiotics. Flash forward to today (3 days after first gym attempt), I tried to lift again. 50lb dumbbells felt very unsteady, I couldn’t believe it. I tried push-ups but failed on those too. No other exercises seem affected besides ones that involve pushing. My legs are strong, my back is strong.

The only way I can describe what I’m experiencing is that there’s a disconnect between what I’m asking the muscle to do and how it follows through. I noticed my left side is considerably weaker than my right. I’m wondering if there’s something going in my shoulder or left pectoral muscle. I’m 33 y/o, 6’1” 190lbs and have no history of other significant medical conditions other than low-testosterone (on TRT) and sleep-apnea.

I will of course seek help from my doctor, but their office is closed for the weekend. Any ideas in the meantime?

I’ve done two more workouts since this was posted and I’ve established that there’s something wrong with my left pec, tricep and shoulder. I see my doctor tomorrow morning. I’ll update this thread after that appointment for anyone who experiences similar symptoms in the future (even though they should still seek medical advice from a professional).


Well, what did you find out?

Did you fall or injury your left AC joint?

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Absolutely nothing, my PCP is out on maternity leave and the other doctor I saw was useless. She told me she could refer me to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the spine or to physical therapy, I obviously opted for physical therapy. I can’t believe she didn’t even examine me for range of motion or send me in for a scan…

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Ugh! Hopefully the PT will get straightened out.

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Diggin the new profile picture!

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No falls or anything out of the ordinary. I actually came off of a lifting break and when I returned to the gym I discovered that I had most of my strength on my left side (upper body). I never hurt of tweaked anything before I left the gym either, everything was going well.

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Thanks! Lol. Just being silly.

Let’s hope! Never experienced anything like this weakness.

Any idea when your regular doc will be back? Hope it’s nothing serious. I know there is research that shows Fluoroquinolones can cause damage.

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Have your neck checked out. 7 years ago I was on the hammer chest machine at my gym and bam couldn’t even move the damn thing! Couldn’t curl. I was like w t f! After months of dealing with this it was determined that I had a herniated disc in my neck c4/5 and had surgery.


She’s back in January. Things got better after a couple of weeks. I got about 80% of my strength back in my left arm. Unfortunately I woke up this morning with searing, pulsing pain in my thoracic spine. It’s radiating down my left arm and most of the day has been miserable. I called the other doctor early this morning. They never called me back, just sent a message on the patient portal telling me to go to physical therapy. I spoke with a chiropractor who said he didn’t understand why she wouldn’t just send me for a scan of my back.

Yikes, sorry to hear that. When you met with the surgeon they didn’t have any other suggestions? I bought an inversion table but it didn’t help my issue.

Nope. Surgeon was like try pt, i had already done 10 sessions of pt for what one dr thought was a strained trap muscle. But he was like you have to do PT neck specific before you can have the surgery or insurance wont cover it. He said right off the bat your a good candidate for surgery. Did the surgery pain was gone immediately. Told sucked though being inactive for 3 months. Tons of lifting and activity restrictions as the fushion heals. That part sucked shit. But i did things like treadmill on the highest incline ,that helped legs. Did 100’s of reps of body squats. They may have gave me a weight restriction but they did not give me a rep restriction hahah. Tons of 10 lb curls . But for back squats and heavy dead’s and over head stuff are gone forever.

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Sorry to hear that. Sounds like you definitely need a new doc. Heat or ice maybe help? Hope you get it sorted out soon.

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The update: my doctor kept telling me to go to PT, refused to do a scan. I went to the ER instead because I started having severe pain in my cervical/thoracic spine as well as a burning, sharp electric pain traveling down my left arm 24/7 for a week straight. They didn’t do a scan there either but gave me the diagnosis of cervical radiculopathy, they prescribed prednisone and a muscle relaxer.

I went to PT, nothing has changed so far, I’m doing nonsense exercises imo. I tried the gym today after taking a week off, my strength is gone again, 40lb dumbbells had me literally shaking like a newborn calf. I’m beyond frustrated at this point. I can’t do any pushing exercise in the vertical or horizontal planes without my left arm completely giving out…

In my experience, PCPs are useless for potential nerve/back issues. I hurt my back at 19, went to urgent care, and they gave me a script of muscle relaxers and tramadol. No PT mentioned and they didn’t even tell me tramadol can have opiod-like dependency issues and side effects. Try getting to a good chiropractor - they can make a world of difference. Make sure you go to one that will X-ray you before working. It will be expensive for your first appointment but will cheapen out considerably after that.

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So to update this thread: the back pain and radiating arm pain is gone. I have comparable strength in both arms now, I’m 90% back to where I was in the weight room but I’m trying not to push it. I’ve cut out overhead pressing altogether and I’m still in physical therapy.


So what was it? Pinched nerve and now maybe some swelling has subsided?