Nervous systems may be more “plastic” than we ever thought, in the hands of a highly trained and experienced professionals in private practice.
One of the rarer acute types of peripheral neuropathy is Guillain-Barre syndrome, sometimes called Landry’s paralysis or Guillain-Barre-Stohl syndrome.
Guillain-Barre turns up most frequently in people who have recently had an infection, like a lung or gastrointestinal sickness. Unfortunately, it can also be a consequence of some immunizations.
GB has just been in the news again as a direct complication of the Swine Flu vaccine.
Fortunately, the condition affects only about one or two in every 100,000 patients far fewer than the more common neuropathy types. Most affected by Guillain-Barre syndrome are between age 30 and 50.
Guillain-Barre syndrome is diagnosed through nerve-conduction studies and by studying the cerebrospinal fluid. History taking is critical! Early medical intervention like plasmapheresis can save the patient years of suffering. But, you MUST be alert to its possibility!
Most sufferers experience ascending paralysis (loss of strength in the feet and hands that migrates towards their core), along with typical polyneuropathy symptoms such as pain and tingling in their extremities. Typically, the duration of onset is short, and it’s progression rapid. I remember how quickly Louise’s condition progressed- a delay in treatment may have killed her!
Perhaps most serious of all, Guillain-Barre syndrome often comes with autonomic neuropathy. These patients will of course then suffer multiple autonomic related issues that will challenge the most seasoned clinicians!
There is still a lot we don’t know about Guillain-Barre syndrome, such as why it attacks some people after an infection and not others, or what actually sets it in motion to attack the nerves. We don’t have a cure for GB yet, either, but there are now treatments available to help manage symptoms and restore quality of life to those suffering from the after effects of the acute illness.
A Case Study: Two Decades of Guillain-Barre Symptoms – Finally Improved!
Our patient Louise was initially diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome over 20 years ago. The onset was sudden; Louise just woke up one morning and her foot felt funny. By the end of the day she was having trouble walking unassisted. In only a few days, Louise needed two canes just to get around. My staff and I pleaded with her HMO to take her complaints very seriously. Her condition was initially “blown off” as just aging or related to her B-12 deficiency. And it was an aunt of mine, an RN who finally got them to do so! Fortunately, she was admitted for plasmapheresis, but only after astute medical doctors I worked with really took a hard look at her rapid progression.
Now, this was 20+ years ago. For two decades, even despite regular chiropractic care she lived in constant discomfort from the neuropathies common with Guillain-Barre, every day worried her condition would degenerate and her legs would suddenly stop being able to bear her weight (even with support). Even simple activities like crossing her legs or driving were difficult. She was emotionally devastated. Her mobility had continued to deteriorate and she was experiencing frequent pain in her lower back and difficulty turning her neck.
After developing or neuropathy specialty protocols a few years back, we began treating Louise with NeuropathyDR® methods to help restore mobility in the affected areas, and the use of a couple different frequencies of neuro, mechanical and electronic stimulation. It was touch and go, because as we’ve since learned, GB patients are very often hyper sensitive to many forms of neuropathy therapy. We also began an oral and topical supplement program, which was very challenging to get just right! During her treatment though, Louise’s painful post GB neuropathy symptoms subsided drastically and mobility began to re-emerge in her legs and back. Now, all of this was after 20+ years!
After experiencing these improvements, Louise wrote to us that, in light of her newly regained mobility, she found herself afraid to hope that she would get feeling back in her legs after all this time. She has been following-up with us as scheduled, and by the grace of God she is now 95! And still comes in for diversified Chiropractic care!
As you see, there is often hope, no matter how long a person has been living with Guillain-Barre or many other types of neuropathy. Chiropractors especially know how even damaged nervous systems may be incredibly more “plastic” than we ever thought.
But only in the hands of a highly trained and experienced professionals in private practice.
Dugdale D, Hoch D. Guillain-Barre syndrome. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. 2010 Jun 15.
Guillain-Barré Syndrome Topic Overview. WebMD. 2011 Apr 28.
NINDS Guillain-Barré Syndrome Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 2011 Aug 19.