What is Polyneuritis?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 18 January 2019
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Polyneuritis is an inflammation of multiple nerves at once. It can appear as a complication of a number of different medical conditions, and also on its own in some cases. Cases are usually managed by a neurologist, a physician who specializes in the care of the nervous system. Treatment options vary, depending on the patient, the cause, the nerves involved, and how far the inflammation has progressed.

Individuals with polyneuritis can experience muscle wasting, paralysis, pain, weakness, loss of sensation, and tingling sensations in the affected nerves. In the case of demyelinating polyneuritis, the myelin sheath which normally protects the nerves is attacked, creating lesions which impair nerve function. If the condition persists, it can lead to lasting nerve damage for the patient.

One example of polyneuritis is acute idiopathic polyneuritis, also known as Guillain-Barre syndrome. In this condition, the immune system starts to attack the myelin which sheathes the nerves in response to stress. Guillain-Barre can appear in response to some vaccinations, although this is rare, and it can also occur as a complication of disease.


Also known as multiple neuritis, polyneuritis can be seen in people of all ages. While some people may be more vulnerable than others, as seen in people with weakened immune systems who develop neuritis because they cannot fight off infections, sometimes the condition appears without warning or obvious cause. Patients usually notice the onset as they start to experience changes in sensation, muscle weakness, and pain caused by nerves which have been damaged by the inflammation.

Treatment for this condition starts with a neurological evaluation in which a doctor determines which nerves are involved and narrows down possible causes. It's important to find the cause, as this will have an impact on which treatment will be most suitable for the patient. The doctor can discuss treatment options with the patient. Sometimes the best treatment is to support the patient through the underlying illness which caused the condition, and following up with physical therapy to help the patient regain strength and motor control once she or he is healed.

It can help to consult several neurologists when one experiences neurological problems. Different doctors have different approaches to treatment and differing experiences with patients, and multiple opinions may help a patient arrive at the best treatment plan. Approaches to treatment are often changing, and patients can get the most advanced care from physicians who are committed to professional development through membership in professional organizations, attendance at conferences, and ongoing research.


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Post 1

I would be terrified if I started to develop polyneuritis symptoms! I am a fairly shaky, nervous person as it is, so I know that nerve issues can drive a person nuts.

It's awful that a person's own immune system can mess with their nerves like that. The scariest type of disease is one where your own body is the enemy.

I think that it would not take long once these symptoms developed for me to have a breakdown. Nerve issues are really hard to handle, and they mess with your mind as well as your body.

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