Why does this patient have numb feet?

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This patient had Guillain Barre Syndrome. Listen to the patient give her history and then a short lecture on it.


Guillain Barre Syndrome is an acute demyelinating polyneuropathy. Most cases follow some pre-existing infection up to three weeks prior. Causes may also relate to post surgery.

The patient will describe ‘numb’ hands or feet, as this patient in the audio above. The characteristic part of the condition is that it will progressively ascend.

The examination will demonstrate sensory loss and there will be a loss of reflexes within several days, although this will be present initially.

These patients will be investigated with lumbar puncture, which will be normal except for an elevated protein (although this may be normal initially).

Respiratory function tests must also be carried out to rule out respiratory failure.

Management is generally supportive with treatment with immunoglobulin.

Most patients will have a complete recovery. There is a small mortality rate, and the prognosis is not based on the level of protein in the CSF, but more on the progress of the disease i.e. those bed bound early will have a worse outcome.

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  1. John Katsoulis on 28/04/2009 at 9:41 pm

    It is important to re-iterate that the key objective signs are motor. Sensory signs are few, if any, and do not usually correspond to sensory symptoms.

    • admin on 29/04/2009 at 6:57 pm

      Great to see our Physician Colleagues getting in on the commentary and accurately so.

  2. Sam on 07/10/2021 at 4:46 am

    Good information. Lucky me I ran across your site by chance (stumbleupon).
    I’ve book-marked it for later!

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