Chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy is one cause of damage to nerves outside the brain or spinal cord (peripheral neuropathy). Polyneuropathy means several nerves are involved. It usually affects both sides of the body equally.
Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) is the most common chronic neuropathy caused by an abnormal immune response. CIDP occurs when the immune system attacks the myelin cover of the nerves.
The cause of chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy is an abnormal immune response. The specific triggers vary. In many cases, the cause cannot be identified.
Blood tests may be done to look for specific proteins that are causing the immune attack on the nerves
Which other tests are done depends on the suspected cause of the condition. Tests may include x-rays, imaging scans, and blood tests.
The goal of treatment is to reverse the attack on the nerves. In some cases, nerves can heal and their function can be restored. In other cases, nerves are badly damaged and cannot heal, so treatment is aimed at preventing the disease from getting worse.
Which treatment is given depends on how severe the symptoms are, among other things. The most aggressive treatment is usually only given if you have difficulty walking or if symptoms interfere with your ability to care for yourself or perform work functions.
Treatments may include:
Corticosteroids to help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms
Other medications that suppress the immune system (for some severe cases)
Plasmapheresis or plasma exchange to remove antibodies from the blood
Intravenous immune globulin (IVIg), which involves adding large numbers of antibodies to the blood plasma to reduce the effect of the antibodies that are causing the problem
The outcome varies. The disorder may continue long term, or you may have repeated episodes of symptoms. Complete recovery is possible, but permanent loss of nerve function is not uncommon.
Permanent decrease or loss of sensation in areas of the body
Permanent weakness or paralysis in areas of the body
Repeated or unnoticed injury to an area of the body
Side effects of medications used to treat the disorder
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have a loss of movement or sensation in any area of the body, especially if your symptoms get worse.
Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Department of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.