Disease Treatments

Neuromuscular Disorders

Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)

Understanding CIDP

CIDP stands for chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. CIDP is rare and believed to be an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder occurs when the immune system malfunctions and creates antibodies that attack and cause damage to a part of the body. In CIDP, the myelin sheath, the protective covering over nerves that aids in sending nerve signals from spine to muscles, is attacked. This results in muscle weakness.

Symptoms of CIDP

Symptoms of CIDP include weakness usually beginning in the legs and then arms, traveling upward in a stocking-glove pattern. There may be numbness or tingling as well. The symptoms start and progress slowly over months and even years. CIDP can improve and then worsen again, with or without medication.

Diagnosing CIDP

Diagnosing CIDP can be difficult and is often a lengthy process. Because symptoms of weakness, numbness and/or tingling can indicate a wide variety of issues, and CIDP is so rare, it is often not at the forefront of a physician's mind as a potential diagnosis. It is after the physician is able to observe the patterns of the symptoms, along with a careful history and other diagnostic workup, that a diagnosis of CIDP can be made.

Additional diagnostic testing may include:

  • Electromyography (EMG) to measure muscle activity.
  • Nerve conduction studies (NCS) to measure efficiency and speed of nerve signals.
  • Lumbar puncture to assess the spinal fluid for indicators of CIDP, or for other disorders which may cause similar symptoms.
  • Blood tests to rule out other conditions which may cause similar symptoms.
  • Historically nerve biopsiesto look at nerve damage to determine the cause were completed. This is done less routinely now.

Treating CIDP

Treatment of CIDP may involve steroids, immunosuppressants and/or immune globulin. The goal of immune globulin in treating CIDP is to stop the attack on the myelin sheath, which will cause the symptoms to subside. Numbness and tingling will decrease and even stop altogether; strength will increase and all of the tasks that may have become difficult will become easier. Your doctor will assess your response to therapy and determine how long you will be on it. Some people require short-term therapy to get the maximum benefit while others may require long-term treatment.


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This content is not intended to substitute professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.