Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare disease in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves. Weakness and tingling in your extremities are usually the first symptoms (typically your feet and legs spreading to your upper body and arms). These symptoms can quickly spread with most severe symptoms 2-4 weeks after the onset, eventually paralyzing your whole body. In its most severe form Guillain-Barre syndrome is a medical emergency. Most people with the condition must be hospitalized to receive treatment.
The exact cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome is unknown. But it is often preceded by an infectious illness such as a respiratory infection or the stomach flu. There’s no known cure for Guillain-Barre syndrome, but several treatments can assist with symptoms and reduce the duration of the illness. Most people recover from Guillain-Barre syndrome, though some may experience lingering effects from it, such as weakness, numbness or fatigue. Physical therapy can play and integral role in recovering from these lingering effects.
Signs and symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome may include:
- Pins and needles sensations in your fingers, toes, ankles or wrists
- Weakness in your legs that spreads to your upper body
- Unsteady walking or inability to walk and climb stairs
- Difficulty with eye or facial movements, including speaking, chewing or swallowing
- Severe pain that may feel achy or cramp like and may be worse at night
- Difficulty with bladder control or bowel function
- Rapid heart rate and altered blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
Balance Solutions physical therapists perform a comprehensive evaluation to assess what lingering effects may remain after recovery from Guillain-Barre syndrome. Following a thorough assessment, a personalized plan of care with goals will be constructed specifically to meet your individual needs and achieve your maximal functional potential. Physical therapy can help you regain your strength, endurance, balance and co-ordination to speed your recovery and return to your previous level of function.