Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) Treatment in Alpharetta, GA
If you're struggling to manage a slew of symptoms like muscle weakness, tingling or burning in your hands or feet, chronic fatigue, balance loss, nausea, or difficulty swallowing you may have chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP).
This progressive nerve inflammation disorder causes muscle weakness and reduced reflexes, as well as a variety of other symptoms that vary from patient to patient. While this disorder can be painful and distressing, there are medications and other forms of therapy that can help treat your symptoms.
What are the symptoms of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy?
Symptoms of CIDP are related to progressive nerve damage in your extremities, and the average onset age is 50. Though different for everyone, the most common CIDP symptoms include:
- reduced reflexes
- abnormal walking
- muscle atrophy
- urinary incontinence
- nausea and vomiting
- low blood pressure
- partial or complete paralysis
- loss of balance
- sensory impairment
- numbness, tingling, or nerve pain in your hands or feet
- arm pain and leg pain
- difficulty swallowing
- double vision
- chronic fatigue
You may have one or more of these symptoms or all of them. Some patients experience a slow, steady onset of symptoms, while other patients have symptoms that appear, disappear, and then recur time after time. If you've been experiencing symptoms for less than eight weeks, another medical condition may be responsible.
What causes chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy?
Inflammation of nerve roots and peripheral nerves leads to the destruction of myelin, the nerves' fatty protective covering. This slows the nerves' ability to transmit necessary signals and leads to the loss of nerve fibers.
Research into this disorder's causes and treatments is ongoing as medical experts have differing explanations for what causes this disorder. Most agree that it's an autoimmune disorder. These types of conditions occur when your body's natural defenses begin treating your health tissue as foreign invaders and try to destroy them.
It's also known that CIDIP is rare - affecting about six patients per 100,000 people - with men affected twice as often as women.
How is chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy diagnosed?
Forming a diagnosis can be difficult, as CIDP is a rare condition and it's easily mistaken for other disorders like Guillain-Barre syndrome, meningitis, or nervous system cancer.
To diagnose chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, your healthcare provider will first perform a physical examination and discuss your symptoms and medical history. Your symptoms will be monitored over 1-2 months to help form an accurate CIDP diagnosis.
A variety of tests can help your medical provider diagnose CIDP, such as:
- reflexes: your medical provider will tap your joints with a soft rubber mallet to test your reflexes; reduced reflexes may help support a CIDP diagnosis
- lumbar puncture: this relies on collecting spinal fluid to diagnose or rule out other disorders like that can cause CIDP-like symptoms
- nerve conduction/electromyography: measures how well your nerves are conducting electrical signals; if your nerve function is diminished, it could support a CIDP diagnosis
How is chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy treated?
There's no definitive cure for CIDP. Treatment centers on reducing the inflammation causing your nerve-related symptoms and managing pain.
As with any medical procedure, results of CIDP treatment will vary from patient to patient depending on age, genetics, general health, condition severity, follow-up care, and environmental factors. Consult your healthcare provider before embarking on your treatment journey.
The following pharmaceutical, regenerative, nutritional, and herbal treatments may present contraindications with one another, and/or with other medical conditions.
Always consult your health care professional before deciding which treatment to try first.
Common treatments include:
- over-the-counter painkillers: acetaminophen or ibuprofen may reduce your pain, as well as prescription painkillers from your medical provider; use with caution, as taking more than the recommended amount can cause liver damage
- immunomodulators: these suppress your immune system and may improve your symptoms
- plasma exchange: your medical provider will draw your blood and separate the red blood cells and other components from the plasma; donor plasma is then added back to your blood sample and injected into your body to slow down your immune system to relieve symptoms
- corticosteroids: these drugs can reduce inflammation and suppress your immune system; long-term use can cause osteoporosis (fragile bones) hypertension (high blood pressure),diabetes, weight gain, increased vulnerability to infection, cataracts and glaucoma, thinning of the skin, bruising easily, and muscle weakness
- intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG): injections of concentrated antibodies from healthy donors may slow your immune response
In rare cases, your healthcare provider may inject healthy stem cells (yours or a donor's) in order to "reset" your immune system. While stem cell therapy research shows promise, there is currently no definite evidence that it can cure CIDP. Some recent studies have provided encouraging results that indicate stem cell therapy may be useful for reducing or eliminating CIDP symptoms.1
Physical therapy is often used to supplement your treatments. Mild exercise may increase your energy levels and reduce your symptoms. If you're experiencing long-term pain and have depression, anxiety, anger, or insomnia as a result, you may benefit from speaking with a mental health counselor or therapist who specializes in helping chronic pain patients.
Certain alternative medical approaches may reduce or relieve your symptoms, such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage, and yoga.
Home remedies for CIDP include:
- turmeric: has anti-inflammatory properties in medicinal doses; may cause problems with pregnancy, stomach, gallbladder, or diabetes; may contribute to infertility, iron deficiency, and hormonal imbalances; may dangerously disrupt normal blood clotting
- alfalfa: a vitamin-rich food that may safely boost your immune system
- vitamin B12: may relieve tingling and numbness; may be taken in pill form, or can be found in seafood, fish, poultry, and dairy products
- Nux vomica: an herb that may help relieve symptoms; is very dangerous and must be used with extreme caution, as it contains strychnine; taking more than 30mg or consuming the herb long-term can cause dizziness, muscle convulsions, seizure, trouble breathing, liver failure, and death; use with extreme caution; use only under the supervision of a highly skilled medical practitioner
- Sepia C6: an herb that may help relieve your symptoms; can cause loss of libido, constipation, nausea, weakness, fatigue, mood swings, hostility, chills, and hot flushes; use with caution, and only under the guidance of a highly skilled medical practitioner
While you may recover from CIDP completely, you can still have symptoms of nerve damage for the rest of your life, including tingling, numbness, or weakness in your extremities. Speak with your healthcare provider to discuss your outlook and long-term treatment options.
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Although CIDP is rare, it can be painful and have a severe impact on your happiness and quality of life. Getting an early diagnosis is the best way to identify CIDP and begin treating its symptoms before long-term damage occurs.
1. Burman, Joachim, et al. “Autologous Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Neurological Diseases.” Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, BMJ Publishing Group Ltd, 1 Feb. 2018, jnnp.bmj.com/content/89/2/147.
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