Chronic Inflammatory Polyneuropathy: Symptoms And Treatment

Chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy is a disease involving nerves. In this disease inflammation and irritation of nerves lead to loss of muscle strength and altered sensation. The meaning of polyneuropathy is many nerves are damaged at the same time. This disease involves peripheral nerves, those that are outside brain and spinal cord. There is bilateral involvement of nerves, meaning nerves of both the sides are affected equally.

Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) is the commonest form of chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy. It produces progressive and relapsing weakness and numbness especially of hands and legs.


This uncommon disease affects males and females of all age. In CIDP there is inflammation of peripheral nerves with destruction of myelin sheath; lining covering the nerves.

The exact cause of chronic polyneuropathy is not known, but it is believed to have an autoimmune origin. There are many suspected triggers that may precipitate the condition, but in each individual it may vary.

People suffering from certain conditions are susceptible to develop chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy (CIP). These conditions can be Diabetes, hepatitis, HIV infection, inflammatory bowel disorder, thyroid disease. It can also occur due to side effect of HIV medicines or chemotherapy.

Symptoms Of Chronic Inflammatory Polyneuropathy

The onset of chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy in gradual, but in some people it may be rapid. Weakness and loss of sensation are two most important symptoms of CIP. Hands and legs are mainly affected. Patient finds difficulty while walking due to weakness. He may not be able to lift his leg. He may experience difficulty in lifting his arm and hand due to weakness.

In some patients pain is frequent accompaniment. There is loss of sensation or burning and tingling pain. The abnormal sensation is manifested first in legs and then in hands.

Difficulty in breathing, abnormal movement, muscle atrophy, speech problem, difficulty in swallowing, hoarseness of voice all occur due to inflammation of the involved nerve or due to weakness in the muscles.

Chronic Inflammatory Polyneuropathy Diagnosis

Chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy is a progressive disease resulting in clinical deterioration of sensation and function of limbs due to inflammatory changes in the peripheral nerves. After taking proper medical history and examining the patient he may recommend certain tests that may help to diagnose the condition.

Muscle weakness, loss of muscle mass, bilateral loss of sensation in limbs is suggestive of chronic inflammatory polyneuropathy. He may also advice the patient for certain tests such as electromyelogram (EMG), biopsy of nerve, blood test for plasma globulin that and antibodies.

Treatment For Chronic Inflammatory Polyneuropathy

The main aim of treatment is to reverse the damage done to the nerves. Few cases have promising result with restoration of nerve function. However where the destruction of nerve is severe the damage is irreversible. In such cases treatment aim is to prevent further deterioration of the condition.

Corticosteroid and plasma exchange and intravenous immunoglobulin is treatment modalities. If improvement begins, the dose of medications is gradually tapered. Children respond very well to corticosteroids. In case of relapse, plasma exchange produces striking benefits. Plasma exchange in such case is only for a brief period of time.

Prognosis depends on many factors. Some patients completely recover from the illness while some patients the weakness and loss of sensation is permanent.

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