Cold paresis in multifocal motor neuropathy

J Neurol. 2011 Feb;258(2):212-7. doi: 10.1007/s00415-010-5712-3. Epub 2010 Aug 28.


Increased weakness during cold (cold paresis) was reported in single cases of multifocal motor neuropathy (MMN). This was unexpected because demyelination is a feature of MMN and symptoms of demyelination improve, rather than worsen, in cold. It was hypothesized that cold paresis in MMN does not reflect demyelination only, but may indicate the existence of inflammatory nerve lesions with permanently depolarized axons that only just conduct at normal temperature, but fail at lower temperatures. We investigated symptoms of cold paresis in 50 MMN patients, 48 chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) patients, 35 progressive spinal muscular atrophy (PSMA) patients, and 25 chronic idiopathic axonal polyneuropathy patients. We also investigated symptoms of increased weakness during warmth (heat paresis). Cold paresis was reported more often than heat paresis. Cold paresis was most frequently reported in MMN. Multivariate analysis indicated that MMN patients had a 4- to 6-fold higher risk of reporting cold paresis than CIDP or PSMA patients. Because cold paresis is not consistent with demyelination, the lesions in MMN may involve other mechanisms than demyelination only. In conclusion, symptoms of cold paresis are common in peripheral nervous system disorders, particularly in MMN. This supports the above-described hypothesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cold Temperature
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paresis / etiology*
  • Paresis / pathology*
  • Polyneuropathies / complications*
  • Polyneuropathies / pathology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires