Q. I think I have CIDP, please help.

A. I am sorry to hear that you think you may have CIDP, or chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.

CIDP is a very rare neurological disorder. As you may know, CIDP happens when nerve roots and peripheral nerves become inflamed and destroy the nerves’ fatty protective covering, called the myelin sheath. It is very similar to the better-known Guillain-Barre syndrome and in fact is considered the chronic version of that disease. Its cause is unknown.

CIDP strikes at any age but is more common in a person’s 50s and 60s, and affects males more frequently than females.

Symptoms of CIDP include weakness and impaired movement in the arms and legs, tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, and dizziness that occurs when you are standing up or stretching. These symptoms tend to appear gradually, except in children when symptoms may appear suddenly. The symptoms may stop, then start up again, get worse and then improve. For a diagnosis of CIDP to be made, the symptoms need to last at least 8 weeks.

Though these symptoms may be frightening, they can be controlled through physical and occupational therapy, orthotic devices, and long-term follow-up care by a physician. In some cases, surgery may be warranted.

Occasionally CIDP goes into complete remission. Serious consequences, such as paralysis, are very rare.

You do not say what your symptoms are, or what led you to the conclusion that you have CIDP. Perhaps you have been researching symptoms on the internet. It is good for patients to be well-informed, and many internet sites contain reliable health information. However, only a physician can properly diagnose disease. CIDP-type symptoms can be caused by many different ailments.

Sometimes patients who self-diagnose delay seeking treatment. This can be dangerous, especially with diseases such as CIDP. Prompt treatment is necessary to help stop the disease from progressing, causing serious complications.

I suggest you make an appointment with your family physician to discuss your symptoms. I would be happy to offer a consultation if needed. In our office, Dr. Sandeep Rana and Dr. George Small specialize in neuromuscular disorders such as CIDP. If you would like to make an appointment, you may do so by calling our office at (412) 359-8850 or you can make an appointment online. You can always get more information on Allegheny Health Network's physicians by calling (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677.

West Penn Allegheny’s Neuroscience Institute is on the forefront of innovative clinical care for neurologic disorders. You may wish to read more about our neurological treatment capabilities.

Best wishes for your good health.

Dr. James Valeriano
Chairman, Department of Neurology
Allegheny Health Network