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Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

What is chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy?

Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) is a condition that affects the nerves in your body. Your nerves have a fatty covering called myelin sheath that protects the nerve fibers. CIDP may happen when your immune system attacks and damages the myelin sheath. This damage can cause weakness and decreased feeling in your arms and legs.

What are the signs and symptoms of CIDP?

  • Arm or leg weakness that makes it hard for you to do certain tasks or walk
  • Tingling, numbness, or pain that starts in your toes and fingers
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle twitching or cramps
  • Loss of reflexes (slow reaction time, such as when you grab a falling object)

How is CIDP diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you, and ask about other health conditions you have. Your provider will also ask about your signs and symptoms. You may need any of the following:

  • Blood and urine tests may be done to help find the cause of your symptoms.
  • Lumbar puncture is a procedure in which a needle is inserted in your back and into your spinal canal. This is usually done to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF is a clear, protective fluid that flows around the brain and inside the spinal canal. The fluid will be sent to a lab to be tested.
  • An electromyography (EMG) test measures the electrical activity of your muscles at rest and with movement.
  • Nerve conduction studies measure how your nerves respond to stimulation. Electrodes (wires) are placed on affected areas of your body. They send electrical currents into the nerve to see how quickly it responds.

How is CIDP treated?

The signs and symptoms of CIDP may come and go over time, even with treatment. For some people, the signs and symptoms may go away completely. Treatment will help to prevent permanent nerve damage. You may need any of the following:

  • Immune globulins may be given to make your immune system stronger.
  • Steroids may be given to decrease nerve swelling.
  • Plasma exchange is a procedure that separates the plasma in your blood from your blood cells. Plasma is the liquid part of your blood. Antibodies that may be attacking and damaging your nerves are also removed. Your blood cells and healthy plasma are then returned to your body.
  • Medicine may be given to decrease nerve pain.
  • Physical and occupational therapy may be recommended. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain. An occupational therapist teaches you skills to help with your daily activities.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You are having trouble breathing.
  • You cannot walk or care for yourself.
  • You have pain that does not decrease, even with medicine.
  • Your symptoms get worse very quickly.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You feel like you cannot cope with your condition.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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