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Chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy

Chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy is nerve swelling and irritation (inflammation) that leads to a loss of movement or sensation.

  • Alternative Names

    Polyneuropathy - chronic inflammatory; CIDP; Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy

  • Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy is a common type 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 the same amount.

    The cause of chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy is an abnormal immune response. The specific triggers vary. In many cases, the cause is unknown.

    It may occur with other conditions, such as:

    Guillain-Barre syndrome is a form of inflammatory polyneuropathy that lasts for a shorter time.

  • Symptoms

    Other symptoms that can occur with this disease:

  • Signs and tests

    An exam shows:

    • Loss of muscle mass
    • No reflexes
    • Paralysis
    • Problems with the senses
    • Muscle weakness
    • Sensation problems on both sides of the body, moving from the arms and legs to the center of the body

    Tests may include:

    Which other tests are done depends on the suspected cause of the condition, and may include x-rays, imaging scans, and blood tests.

  • Treatment

    The goal of treatment is to control symptoms. What 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 include:

    • Corticosteroids to help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms
    • Other medications that suppress the immune system (for some severe cases)
    • Removing the fluid part of the blood (plasma) that contains antibodies from the body, removing the antibodies, and then replacing the plasma (plasmapheresis)
    • Adding large numbers of antibodies to the plasma to dilute the effect of the antibodies that are causing the problem (intravenous immune globulin (IVIg))
  • Expectations (prognosis)

    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.

  • Complications
    • Pain
    • 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
  • Calling your health care provider

    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.

Review Date: 9/25/2008

Reviewed By: Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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