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Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)

What is Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)?

This rare neurological disorder causes nerves and nerve roots to swell, which can destroy the myelin sheath that protects nerves. This inhibits their ability to transmit signals to limbs, resulting in fatigue, pain, weakness, numbness, and paralysis in the arms and legs. About 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with CIDP, one of the most common forms of neuropathy.  

What You Can Expect at UTHealth Houston Neurosciences

At UTHealth Houston Neurosciences, our dedicated team uses the latest technology to accurately diagnose and treat your condition. We work in multidisciplinary teams of specialists who share insights, leading to better treatment decisions and outcomes. Throughout the treatment process, we will work closely with the doctor who referred you to ensure a smooth transition back to your regular care. While you are with us, you will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.

Causes of CIDP

While its cause is unknown, CIDP is considered an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack the peripheral nervous system. Males are twice as likely as females to be affected. Unlike other similar conditions, CIDP doesn’t typically tend to follow a viral infection. There is no known genetic link.

Signs of CIDP

CIDP can be difficult to diagnose. The symptoms – pain, weakness, paralysis, tingling, and sensory disturbances – spread slowly for at least two months and typically cause symmetric weakness around the hips, shoulders, hands, and feet. Patients might experience fatigue, clumsiness, and difficulty swallowing.

The longer time it takes symptoms to spread is one of the main differences between CIDP and acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP), a common form of Guillain Barré syndrome. AIDP is closely related, but its symptoms reach their peak within a matter of days or weeks and usually follow an infectious illness.


Your doctor will assess your symptoms through a physical examination. A nerve conduction study or electromyography may be conducted to reveal demyelination. A spinal tap may be ordered to look for elevated protein without elevated white blood cells. An MRI might also help with a diagnosis. There isn’t a single reliable test to diagnose CIDP, so your doctor will likely work to rule out other conditions through blood and urine tests and other exams. If your doctor suspects CIDP, they may begin treatment for CIDP to see how your symptoms respond.


Early treatment is recommended to limit symptoms and to help ensure a full recovery. Medications, including corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs, are available as approved treatments for CIDP. Intravenous immunoglobulin and plasma exchanges are also extremely effective in modifying or enhancing the immune system. Immunotherapy and stem cell transplants may also be considered. Clinical trials are underway to use certain antibodies to treat the condition. Some patients may experience residual weakness or numbness as part of CIDP, and physical therapy may be recommended to assist with recovery.

Nerve Disorders

Contact Us

At UTHealth Houston Neurosciences, we offer patients access to specialized neurological care at clinics across the greater Houston area. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.