We bring together more than 60 rare and very rare progressive muscle-wasting conditions, which affect around 70,000 children and adults in the UK.

Inflammatory and autoimmune neuropathies

In inflammatory and autoimmune neuropathies, the immune system attacks the peripheral nerves, disrupting the signal to the muscles.

They include:

  • acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (also called Guillain-Barré syndrome)
  • chronic inflammatory demyelinating peripheral neuropathy (CIDP).

Guillain-Barré syndrome is characterised by the rapid development of weakness and numbness. This is caused by widespread inflammation that first appears in the legs, then moves to the arms and the face. In severe cases, swallowing and breathing are involved and artificial ventilation and feeding are needed. The exact cause is not known, but in most cases people affected had a prior viral or bacterial infection. They often make a full recovery.

CIDP has similar characteristics to Guillain-Barré syndrome. It is generally a longer-term condition, and is more common in younger people. It affects more women than men.

About 6,400 people in the UK have a form of inflammatory and autoimmune neuropathy.

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