Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) is a disorder that affects the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves). Specifically, the fatty covering, or sheath, that is wrapped around the out-side of a nerve cell is damaged. The covering is called myelin, and the damage is called demyelination. The nerve damage becomes apparent as weakness in the legs and arms increases in severity with time.
The demyelination of peripheral nerves causes a weakness in the legs and arms that grows progressively more severe over time. The ability of the limbs to feel sensory impulses such as touch, pain, and temperature can also be impaired. Typically, the malady is first apparent as a tingling or numbness in the toes and the fingers. The symptoms can both spread and become more severe with time.
The symptoms, treatment, and prognosis of CIDP is very similar to another nerve disease known as Guillain-Barré syndrome. In fact, CIDP has been historically known as "chronic Guillain-Barré syndrome" (Guillain-Barré syndrome is an acute malady whose symptoms appear and clear up more rapidly). Despite their similarities, however, CIDP and Guillain-Barré are two distinct conditions. CIDP is also known as chronic relapsing polyneuropathy.
CIDP can occur at any age. However, the malady is more common in young adults, and in men more than in women. The disorder is rare in the general population.
Brian Douglas Hoyle PhD, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,