Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is a rare neurological disorder affecting peripheral nerves. It can cause weakness and numbness in the feet and hands, as well as problems with balance and coordination. Below are six medical facts that you should know about CMT.
1. It Is Hereditary
If you have CMT, there is a 50% chance that you will pass the disease on to your children. CMT is caused by mutations in genes responsible for developing and maintaining the peripheral nervous system.
These mutations can be passed down from generation to generation. Sometimes, CMT may be caused by spontaneous gene mutations during early development. CMT affects both males and females equally. It is estimated that approximately 25,000 people are living with CMT in the United States.
2. CMT Is A Progressive Disorder
CMT typically gets worse over time. The rate of progression can vary from person to person, but most people with CMT experience a gradual decline in their physical abilities. In some cases, the symptoms of CMT may remain stable for long periods.
3. It Affects The Peripheral Nervous System
The peripheral nervous system is made up of nerves that link the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. In people with CMT, these nerves are damaged. This damage can cause various symptoms, including weakness, numbness, and problems with balance and coordination.
CMT can also cause pain in the muscles and joints. Walking or performing everyday activities such as buttoning a shirt or brushing your teeth may become difficult as the disease progresses.
4. Diagnosis Is Done Through Genetic Testing
CMT is usually diagnosed based on the symptoms that are present. However, a confirmatory diagnosis can be made through genetic testing. This testing can be used to identify the specific gene mutation that is causing CMT. In some cases, genetic testing may also diagnose CMT in people with no disease symptoms.
5. No Cure Is Available For CMT
Currently, there is no cure for CMT. However, treatments are available that can help manage the disease’s symptoms. These treatments can include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and medications. In some cases, surgery may also be used to treat CMT.
The goal of treatment is to improve the quality of life for people with CMT and to slow down the progression of the disease. There is currently no way to reverse or cure CMT. However, research is ongoing, and scientists are working towards finding a cure for this debilitating disease.
6. There Are Four Types Of CMT
There are four major types of CMT: Type I, Type II, Type III, and Type IV. The most frequent form is type I, characterized by progressive muscular weakness and wasting. Type II is similar to type I but typically has a more rapid progression.
Type III, also known as Dejerine-Sottas disease, is the most severe form of CMT. It is characterized by early onset, rapidly progressive muscle weakness, and severe sensory loss. Type IV is the least common form of CMT and usually has a milder course.
Being a rare disease, there is still much unknown information about Charcot-Marie-Tooth. However, the six facts above provide some general understanding of the disease. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with CMT, talk to a doctor or genetic counselor to learn more about the disease and available treatments.