, Volume 254, Issue 10, pp 1318-1322,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 11 Apr 2007

Determination of pain and response to methylprednisolone in Guillain-Barré syndrome



GBS patients were recruited from a randomized placebo-controlled study comparing intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) + methylprednisolone (500 mg for 5 days) versus IVIg + placebo. Presence and severity of pain were prospectively scored at randomization and after 4 weeks. Efficacy of methylprednisolone was evaluated using endpoints: percentage of patients with pain and percentage of patients improving in pain-severity level. Medical records of the subgroup of patients treated in the Erasmus MC were screened retrospectively for different pain symptoms and course. Pain was scored at different time intervals: within 4 weeks before randomization and 0–2, 2–4, 4–24, 24–52 weeks after randomization.


123 (55%) of 223 patients had pain at randomization. In 70%, pain already started before onset of weakness. Methylprednisolone did not show a positive effect on the presence and reduction of pain. In the subgroup of 39 patients, backache (33%), interscapular (28%), muscle (24%), radicular pain (18%) and painful par-/dysaesthesiae (18%) were most frequently present within the period of 4 weeks before randomization. Twenty-six percent had extreme pain 0–2 weeks after randomization. Most symptoms of pain decreased after this period, but painful par-/dysaesthesiae and muscle pain often remained present during at least 6 months.


Pain frequently occurs, often starts before onset of weakness and may cause severe complaints. Especially painful par-/dysaesthesiae and muscle pain may persist for months. Methylprednisolone seems to have no significant effect on the presence and intensity of pain.