Overview of GBS

Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) is an inflammatory disorder of the peripheral nerves. The peripheral nerves convey sensory information (e.g., pain, temperature) from the body to the brain and motor (i.e., movement) signals from the brain to the body. GBS is characterized by weakness and numbness or tingling in the legs and arms, and possible loss of movement and feeling in the legs, arms, upper body, and face.

Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradicalneuropathy (CIDP), is considered to be a related form of Guillain-Barre syndrome. It is much less common than GBS, and evolves much more slowly and usually is longer lasting. Some CIDP patients experience periods of worsening and improvement, and individual relapses can be confused with GBS.

Incidence Guillain-Barre syndrome is a rare disorder; its frequency is about 1 to 2 cases in every 100,000 people per year in the United States. Men and women, young and old, are equally prone to contracting GBS.

Publication Review By: Gordon R. Kelley, M.D., Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 02 Jan 2000

Last Modified: 25 May 2011