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Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy

What is Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy?

Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) is a disease of the nerves with weakness, numbness, and pain that can occur anytime in life. Nerve roots swell and destroy the myelin sheath (fatty tissue) around the nerves, which causes CIDP. This, in turn, impairs the function of the limbs. The progression of symptoms is variable. There may be a slow decline over 8 weeks or more, with slow improvement over months, or remissions and relapses over the course of years with possible incomplete recovery. What sets CIDP apart from other diseases similar to it is that there seems to be no viral infection present approximately 3 months before the disease is apparent.

Who gets Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy?

People of any age and either sex can get CIDP. However, the peak period patients develop CIDP is in the 6th or 7th decade of life and the disorder is twice as common in men. There does not seem to be a genetic link to CIDP. The incidence of CIDP each year is estimated to be between 1.5 and 3.6 million in the population. Approximately 30,000 patients in the US are affected at any one time.

How is Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy diagnosed?

There is no reliable diagnostic test for this disorder. The diagnosis is based on a combination of the history, the examination, and the supporting studies including nerve conduction studies, needle EMGs, and spinal fluid examination. Early recognition is important.

How is Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy treated?

Treatment may speed up improvement and/or minimize the worsening of symptoms. Treatment can include corticosteroids such as prednisone, immunosuppressant drugs, physical therapy, and even plasma exchange and intravenous immunoglobulin therapies. Up to 80% of patients respond to one or more therapies that modify the immune system. 

The GBS CIDP Foundation International has publications for patients and their caregivers related to CIDP including:
  • An of Overview for the Layperson
  • Guidelines for Physical and Occupational Therapy
  • A Handbook for Caregivers
  • Caring For A Child with GBS or CIDP 

In addition, the GBS CIDP Foundation International provides information about chapter meetings and connecting to local liaisons for support.

See also the AANEM endorsed AAN Guideline on IVIg in Neuromuscular Disorders

More information on Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy

GBS CIDP Foundation International 
Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy
American Chronic Pain Association
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke