Charcot Marie Tooth Disease: What You Should Know

Charcot Marie Tooth disease or CMT was first discovered in France in the 19th century. The condition acquired its name from the three neurologists who accurately classified the disorder namely Jean Charcot, Pierre Marie and Howard Henry Tooth.

Over the years, more scientists and medical doctors discovered more about the condition. It is a genetic disorder that affects thousands of individuals around the world each year. Proper knowledge will be very helpful for sufferers of Charcot Marie Tooth disease to determine the approaches.

Defining Charcot Marie Tooth Disease

Charcot Marie Tooth disease or CMT is described as an inherited disorder affecting the nerves. The most usual presentation is weakness in the lower part of the body. The lower part of the legs is usually affected, displaying muscle loss and weakness. Later on, the upper regions of the body and upper extremities will also be affected.

The condition can be discovered among individuals during their childhood years up to the time they are in their middle or late adulthood years. The initial findings on the condition also call it peroneal muscle atrophy wherein there are at least three disorders in the neuromuscular system.

There are different types of Charcot Marie Tooth disease referred to as Type I, Type II, Type III and Type IV or X. Each of these have different manifestations and will require a number of relative interventions as well.

Discovering Charcot Marie Tooth Disease Through Symptoms

Many individuals who have Charcot Marie Tooth disease will not know that they have the condition until they observe the usual symptoms. Some of the noticeable symptoms include muscle pain, cramps, weakness and loss of muscle in the calves and lower part of the legs. The feet will also feel numb or the person might have tingling sensations in the area.

Pain is not a common occurrence but can also be present in some cases. Because of the effects that the condition has on the legs, people usually need leg braces, knee supports, customized footwear and orthopedic instruments for stability and balance. Individuals also need to resort to physical therapy to prevent muscle wasting and improve the way they walk or run.

The Causes of Charcot Marie Tooth Disease

Since the peripheral nerves are mainly affected among patients with Charcot Marie Tooth disease, it will be useful to know how these work. The peripheral nerve will be composed of two main parts namely the myelin sheath and the axon.

The myelin sheath is defined as the insulation around the axon which will cover the axon fully. This is very useful in maintaining the good quality of the electric signals for communication inside the body. The axon is located within the nerve. The electrical data will be passed on from the brain and other parts of the body with the aid of the axon. This is similar to how electricity is transmitted through wires and cables.

In patients with Charcot Marie Tooth disease, the myelin sheath, axon or both will be affected. The myelin sheath begins to deteriorate and get thinner. The axon will also acquire damage so the muscles will not get the right information from the brain. This leads to muscle cramps, muscle aches, loss of sensation in the area and muscle weakness. If the axons are mainly targeted by the condition, the electrical signals will not be delivered efficiently. This explains why the person usually has trouble walking and running and will usually fall or trip.

Treatment of Charcot Marie Tooth Disease

There are a number of reliable treatments for Charcot Marie Tooth disease that will not entirely cure the condition but alleviate the effects for patients to cope better.

Surgery is done in very severe cases if other instruments and therapies still do not effectively get rid of the pain and severe disability. Osteotomy is done for individuals with severe flat feet. The surgeon will take out bones or position the feet properly. Arthrodesis involves eliminating the pain caused by abnormalities in the joints. Heel problems can also be eliminated and the shape of the feet will be improved.

Planter fascia treatment is done for people with inflamed tendons thereby leading to constant pain in the heels. The tendon will be removed through surgical means. Many people can walk or run normally after these treatments.