Understanding Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease

While it may sound like Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease would be something that would be described in a fictional book or movie, it is in fact a real medical disease. Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease is an inherited sensory and motor neuropathy that most commonly affects the nerves of the outer extremities of the body such as the arms and/or legs. To describe it more specifically first the term “neuropathy” must be understood, neuropathy occurs when nerve damage has taken place and results in incorrect signals being sent to the brain by the nerves as well as many other nerve related symptoms the individual displays.

Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Symptoms

Because it is a neuropathy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, most often displays symptoms that are associated with nerve damage in the feet or legs (however symptoms can also be located in the arms and/or hands as well). Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease includes muscle weakness and decreased muscle bulking, foot abnormalities (such as arches or hammertoes), trouble with balance or walking, and “stork-legged” tendencies (which develop from the lack of muscle bulk in the lower legs).

Quite often Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease is a progressive disease that will tend to exacerbate the symptoms and signs over time in a person who has the disease. The symptoms can leave individuals needing assistance with the aid of wheelchairs, special shoes, leg braces, or other orthopedic devices because the symptoms have begun to interfere with balance, walking, or weakness in the feet and/or legs.

Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Treatment

The main cause of concern for the condition of Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease is that it results in the interruption of messages that travel between the extremities (usually the lower extremities) and the brain. The interruption of signals can wreak havoc in a person who has Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease and treatment is advised in order to aid in decreasing symptom and preventing further nerve damage from occurring. Treatment options for Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease can include lifestyle changes which can help to manage the symptoms – these lifestyle chances include cessation of smoking, avoidance of toxins, limiting alcohol consumption, as well as an overall healthier adaptation in regards to exercise and nutrition. Both physical therapists as well as orthopedics can help in treating the deformities and walking problems that many individuals with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease experience. Pain management is also a crucial part in the treatment of Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease and can use a combination of treatments for joint and muscle pain as well as treating the neuropathic pain associated with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease.

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