What is CIDP?

Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP) is an autoimmune disorder that develops slowly.  Myelin insulates and protects the body’s nerves by covering them.  With CIDP, the body’s immune system attacks the myelin, thus leaving the nerves unprotected.  The nerves become inflamed and the swelling damages myelin.  The cause of CIDP is unknown and there is no cure, however effective treatment options are available.  It is most common in older adults and more men than women are diagnosed with this progressive disorder.

Although symptoms vary with each person, common symptoms are:

Tingling and gradual weakening in arms and legs

Loss of reflexes and balance; inability to walk

Loss of sensation in arms and legs

There is no specific test to diagnose patients with CIDP.  Typically, a blood and urine test is done as well as nerve conduction study and/or lumbar puncture. Your doctor will also do a physical examination, as well as ask about symptoms.  Once diagnosed, early treatment is key.

According to Web MD, treatment options include:

Steroids- Reduces nerve inflammation.

Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG)- Injections of concentrated antibodies to slow down your body’s immune response.

Plasma exchange (PE)- IV treatment to slow down your body’s immune system.

Immunotherapy- Medication that interrupts your immune system to prevent an attack on myelin.

Stem cell transplant- Injection of healthy stem cells.

In addition to treatments, physical therapy may be recommended for patients who experience permanent physical impairments.  Maintaining your strength, good diet, and continuous treatment can slow down the progression of CIDP.  Patients may also feel down or depressed due to their condition.  Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants and psychotherapy.  If you suspect that you have CIDP and have persisting symptoms for over 8 weeks, preparing for your doctor’s appointment is important.  Write down all your questions and make notes during your visit.  It may also be helpful to go with a friend or family member for support.