Treatment at Mayo Clinic

By Mayo Clinic Staff

More about treatment

Aside from the treatment information featured on this page, Mayo Clinic provides all standard treatment options for this condition.

Read more about all treatments

Appointments

Mayo Clinic accepts appointments in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and at Mayo Clinic Health System sites.

Request an Appointment

Mayo Clinic doctors offer comprehensive, coordinated care for people who have Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS). Doctors provide your initial medical treatment, rehabilitation and management of any complications associated with GBS, tailoring your treatment to your needs.

Initial medical treatment

Most people who are newly diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome initially receive care in intensive care units so doctors can monitor breathing and other body functions. You may need a mechanical ventilator to breathe.

Your Guillain-Barre syndrome treatment may include:

  • Plasmapheresis (plasma exchange). Plasmapheresis cleans your blood of damaging antibodies. The procedure removes the liquid portion of your blood (plasma) and returns the red blood cells to your body. Over time, your body replaces the plasma that was removed.
  • Intravenous immune globulin. A type of protein (immunoglobulin) contains healthy antibodies from blood donors. In this procedure, a doctor inserts an intravenous (IV) line into your vein and injects high doses of immunoglobulin. These doses help block the damaging antibodies in your blood that may contribute to GBS.

Rehabilitation

Although most people recover from Guillain-Barre syndrome, the length of your illness is unpredictable, and you may require months of hospital care and rehabilitation. As your nerve function returns, you may need assistance to learn how to use affected muscles. Your rehabilitation may include several types of therapy.

  • Physical therapy. Physical therapy stimulates muscles and joints to rebuild strength, flexibility and range of motion.
  • Occupational therapy. Occupational therapy focuses on activities to help you be as self-sufficient as possible in your daily life.
  • Assistive devices. You may need to learn to use assistive devices, such as leg or arm braces, canes, walkers and wheelchairs to aid mobility during recovery or, if GBS causes permanent disabilities, for long-term use.

Management of symptoms and complications

Most people who have Guillain-Barre syndrome completely recover. However, you may have ongoing muscle weakness, numbness or tingling for several weeks or months. You may experience complications, such as a relapse of muscle weakness and tingling, permanent loss of muscle strength or serious, long-term disability. You also may develop chronic relapsing muscle weakness, which is a different ongoing inflammatory neuropathy called chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP). Mayo Clinic researchers originally described this condition in 1975. Mayo Clinic staff treats complications and helps you manage conditions associated with GBS.

Follow-up care and support

Doctors will work with you and coordinate your follow-up care with your local doctors. Mayo Clinic staff offers resources, education and information to help you and your family members cope with GBS and recovery.

May. 28, 2011