Hereditary Disorder: Charcot-Marie Tooth Disease

top_rightCharcot-Marie Tooth Disease is a hereditary disorder that causes damage to the nerves in your arms and legs.  These nerves are known as the peripheral nerves.  Many refer to this as motor and sensory neuropathy.  Charcot-Marie Tooth disease is caused by mutations in inherited genes that are responsible for the overall function of the nerves in the extremities of the body.

Symptoms

The symptoms that accompany Charcot-Marie Tooth disease are similar to those find in other types of neuropathy.  Legs, ankles and feet are the primary area of concerns with this condition; however, as the disease progresses symptoms could move into the arms and hands.  Sufferers of this disease may notice these symptoms:

  • Weakness in legs and feet
  • Curled or hammer toes
  • High foot arches
  • Numbness or tingling in legs and feet
  • Frequent stumbles or tripping
  • Inability to run
  • Sense of heaviness/difficulty lifting foot.

 

Treatment

At this time, there is no known cure for Charcot-Marie Tooth disease, but doctors believe that due to its slow progression, the life expectancy of those diagnosed doesn’t change.  Pain medication can be used as part of treatment for this condition, should you experience extensive pain due to nerve damage.  This medication would have to be prescribed and monitored by your attending physician.  Various types of therapy are available to help alleviate discomfort and maintain current lifestyle, as much as possible.  Physical therapy can be used to strengthen and stretch muscles to reduce loss.  Occupational therapy is available to, should you reach a point where finger movement and grasping small items becomes difficult.  Normal activities such as tying your shoes, buttoning clothes and holding a pen/pencil can produce great challenges.  This type of therapy provides devices and instruction to assist with these routines and make them easier to perform.  The use of orthopedic devices can help increase mobility and reduce chances of injury.  These devices may include ankle/leg braces, splints and high-top shoes designed to support fragile ankles and feet.  Finally, should the problems with feet become so severe that walking is difficult, surgery can be performed to regain mobility.

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