Charcot Marie Tooth disease is a group of inherited disorders that cause nerve damage. This damage is mostly happening in the arms and legs (in the peripheral nerves). The Charcot Marie Tooth disease is also known as hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy. This type of disease is resulting in smaller and weaker muscles.
Also, you can experience a loss of sensation and muscle contractions and difficulty walking. Also, the foot deformities, such as hammertoes and high arches can be common in the Charcot Marie Tooth disease. Usually, symptoms begin in the feet and legs but also they can affect your hands and arms.
The symptoms of Charcot Marie Tooth disease usually appear in adolescence or in early adulthood but also, they can develop in midlife.
Charcot Marie Tooth Disease Symptoms:
The most common signs and symptoms of the Charcot Marie Tooth disease include:
- A decreased sensation or a loss of feeling in your legs and feet
- Frequent tripping or falling
- Awkward or higher than normal step (gait)
- Difficulty lifting your foot at the ankle (footdrop)
- Decreased ability to run
- Curled toes (hammertoes)
- High foot arches
- A loss of muscle bulk in your legs and feet
- Weakness in your legs, ankles, and feet
As the Charcot Marie Tooth disease progresses, then the symptoms can spread from the feet and legs to the hands and arms. The severity of the symptoms can vary a lot from one person to another even among family members. If you have noticed some of the mentioned symptoms of Charcot Marie Tooth disease, then you should talk with your doctor.
He or she will make you a physical exam so he or she can be sure about your condition. You should know that there is no cure for the Charcot Marie Tooth disease. Generally, this disease progresses slowly so it does not affect the expected life span. Also, there are some treatments that can help you to manage the symptoms of the Charcot Marie Tooth disease.
Your doctor can prescribe you medications to help control your pain because there are some cases when the Charcot Marie Tooth disease can cause pain due to muscle cramps or nerve damage. If the foot deformities are severe, then the corrective foot surgery can help to alleviate the pain and improve your ability to walk.
Charcot Marie Tooth Disease Causes:
It is known that the Charcot Marie Tooth disease is an inherited and genetic condition. It happens when there are mutations in the genes which affect the nerves in your arms, hands, legs, and feet. There are some cases when these mutations can damage the nerves. Other mutations can damage the protective coating which surrounds the nerve (called the myelin sheath).
Both of them can cause weaker messages to travel between your extremities and the brain. This means that some muscles in your feet may not receive the brain’s signal to contract which is increasing your chances to trip and fall. Also, your brain may not receive the pain messages from your feet, so if you have rubbed a blister on your toe, then it can get infected and you will not realize it.
Risk Factors in Charcot Marie Tooth Disease:
You should know that the Charcot Marie Tooth disease is a hereditary disease so you have a higher risk of developing this disorder if any one of your family has this condition. Also, there can be other causes of neuropathies, such as diabetes which can cause symptoms that are similar to or worsen the Charcot Marie Tooth disease.
Also, there are some cases when medications such as paclitaxel (Abraxane, Taxol), chemotherapy drugs vincristine (Marqibo), and others can make symptoms worse. You should tell your doctor about all medications that you are taking so he or she can help you in the treatment of Charcot Marie Tooth disease.
Complications in Charcot Marie Tooth Disease:
The complications which can be caused by Charcot Marie Tooth disease can vary a lot from a person to person. Usually, the most serious problems are foot abnormalities and difficulty walking. Muscles can get weaker and also the injured areas of your body can experience decreased sensation.
Also, you can experience difficulty swallowing, speaking, or breathing if the muscles which control these functions are affected by the Charcot Marie Tooth disease.