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What Is Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)?

Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) is a neurological disorder characterized by progressive weakness and impaired sensory function in the legs and arms. The disorder, which is sometimes called chronic relapsing polyneuropathy, is caused by damage to the myelin sheath (the fatty covering that wraps around and protects nerve fibers) of the peripheral nerves. Although it can occur at any age and in both genders, CIDP is more common in young adults, and in men more so than women. It often presents with symptoms that include tingling or numbness (beginning in the toes and fingers), weakness of the arms and legs, loss of deep tendon reflexes (areflexia), fatigue, and abnormal sensations. CIDP is closely related to Guillain-Barre syndrome and it is considered the chronic counterpart of that acute disease.

Is there any treatment?

Treatment for CIDP includes corticosteroids such as prednisone, which may be prescribed alone or in combination with immunosuppressant drugs. Plasmapheresis (plasma exchange) and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) therapy are effective. IVIg may be used even as a first-line therapy. Physiotherapy may improve muscle strength, function and mobility, and minimize the shrinkage of muscles and tendons and distortions of the joints.

What is the prognosis?

The course of CIDP varies widely among individuals. Some may have a bout of CIDP followed by spontaneous recovery, while others may have many bouts with partial recovery in between relapses. The disease is a treatable cause of acquired neuropathy and initiation of early treatment to prevent loss of nerve axons is recommended. However, some individuals are left with some residual numbness or weakness.

What research is being done?

The NINDS supports a broad program of research on disorders of the nervous system, including CIDP. Much of this research is aimed at increasing the understanding of these disorders and finding ways to prevent, treat, and cure them.


GBS/CIDP Foundation International
P.O. Box 262
Wynnewood, PA 19096
Tel: 610-667-0131
Fax: 610-667-7036

American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
22100 Gratiot Avenue
East Detroit, MI 48201-2227
Tel: 586-776-3900 800-598-4668
Fax: 586-776-3903

Neuropathy Association
60 East 42nd Street
Suite 942
New York, NY 10165-0999
Tel: 212-692-0662
Fax: 212-692-0668

Source: Office of Communications and Public Liaison, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health
Last updated February 13, 2007

Adapted by Editorial Staff, March 2007. Last update, August 2008



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