Pain as the presenting symptom of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP)

Author(s): Boukhris S, Magy L, Khalil M, Sindou P, Vallat JM

Abstract

Numerous clinical forms of CIDP have been described, but pain is generally considered a rare or secondary sign. We describe here the clinical, electrophysiological and neuropathological characteristics of five patients with CIDP and pain as the main presenting symptom, and their course with treatment. Between January 2003 and December 2004, we selected five patients with prominent or isolated pain among 27 patients diagnosed with CIDP. All patients were subjected to clinical and electrophysiological examinations, and had a complete laboratory work up to exclude other causes of neuropathy. In view of the atypical clinical presentation, all five patients underwent nerve biopsy. There were two men and three women. The mean age at onset of neuropathy was 70+/-7.39 years. All patients initially presented with pain in the lower limbs associated with modest motor impairment (1 case), distal paresthesia (4 cases), cramps (1 case) and fatigue (2 cases). CSF was normal in three cases. On electrophysiological examination, three patients had nerve conduction abnormalities with subtle or clear signs of demyelination: three (case 1, 2 and 4) fulfilled the criteria of Rotta et al. and two (case 2 and 4) the criteria of both Nicolas et al and the INCAT group. Patients were all given symptomatic treatment and four patients received an immunomodulatory treatment, which was constantly effective. Pain may be a major and disabling symptom in patients with CIDP, so this diagnosis has to be considered in patients referred for a painful polyneuropathy. Moreover, immunomodulatory treatment has to be considered in such patients as symptomatic therapy may be ineffective.

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