What Are the Main Symptoms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease?


Quick Answer

Weakness in the legs, ankles and feet and loss of muscle in the legs and feet are the main symptoms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, though the condition also causes foot deformities such as hammertoes and high arches, notes Mayo Clinic. Patients with the disease may also experience complications involving the hands and arms, though symptoms can vary greatly from person to person and between family members.

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Full Answer

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, also called hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy, is a group of hereditary disorders that damage leg and arm nerves, states Mayo Clinic. People with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease have inherited mutations in their genes that block brain signals related to muscle contraction and pain. These mutations may affect the nerves themselves or the myelin sheaths that protect them. People who suffer from the disease may have difficulty balancing themselves and walking, and may experience tripping and falling.

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease normally manifests in adolescents or young adults, though it can develop later in life, according to Mayo Clinic. People with family members who have the condition are more likely to develop Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, and those with diabetes may have more severe symptoms and complications. Doctors use nerve conduction studies, electromyography, nerve biopsies and genetic testing to diagnose the disease. There is no cure for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, as of 2015, and doctors treat it with pain medications, physical and occupational therapies, orthopedic devices, and, in some cases, corrective surgery.

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