How would you feel if you were in constant pain and could not take a step without tumbling to the ground? Imagine if you could not feel your hands or move your arms and legs? What if the muscles that enable you to breathe stopped moving?
Unfortunately, for the more than 20 million people in the United States diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, this is their difficult reality. Peripheral Neuropathy is the general term used to describe disorders resulting from injury to the peripheral nerves. Some neuropathies come on suddenly; others develop gradually over many years. The symptoms depend on the types of nerves affected and their location, but the problem usually starts with weakness, numbness or pain. Since anything that damages the peripheral nerves can cause neuropathy, there are many different types and many causes. Some diseases affect only the peripheral nerves; others also affect other parts of the body.
Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) is a type of neuropathy that can cause progressive weakness, numbness and impaired balance. It is usually a chronic condition and may require long term treatment. Although the exact cause remains unknown, CIDP is an autoimmune disorder. The immune system protects against disease by fighting off infections with viruses and bacteria, however in CIDP, the body’s immune system, attacks the nerves, resulting in weakness and numbness. The disease progresses either with repeated attacks, called relapses, or in a stepwise or steady fashion. One of the greatest challenges presented by CIDP is proper diagnosis. More than 50% of those with CIDP have an atypical form of the disease, which can make diagnosis difficulty, delaying treatment, and allowing the disease to progress unnecessarily.