What causes charcot marie tooth disease?

May 10, 2010

Charcot-Marie-Tooth is a disease that may sound like a dental disorder but it has more to do with your limbs. It is actually a disorder of the nerves that affect the legs and arms, and cause muscle weakness along with degeneration and decreased sensitivity. Symptoms of the condition can vary greatly in terms of the severity, but they do tend to increase in severity over time.

The symptoms of this disorder generally surface in the feet as well as the legs, and could also gradually begin to affect the arms and hands. The disease also causes physical deformities like high arches and hammertoes in the foot. There is also a weakening of the muscles, in addition to which one tends to lose balance while walking, thus does make walking a hurdle. Patients may also find it hard to lift their feet when walking and display an awkward gait. Walking can in fact become very difficult and it could cause frequent tripping and falls. Although there is decreased sensation and numbness in the limbs there could also be some amount of pain.

This disease is basically a group of conditions that are related and caused by mutations in the genes that are inherited. These genetic mutations affect the genes that are crucial to the function and structure of nerves that are essential for the control of our limbs, the hands, arms, legs and feet. These genetic mutations that we speak of can at times in fact cause damage to the nerve itself. In some cases the damage may not be to the nerve but it could be to the myelin sheath, which is a protective covering that covers the nerves. The outcome is however the same in either situation, with weaker signals being sent to and from the extremities and your brain.

This has a direct bearing on your mobility as it affects your ability to walk, or at least to walk without the risk of bodily injury. Because of the nerve damage, muscles that are present in your feet may not receive signals sent from the brain instructing them to contract. This simply increases the likelihood of you tripping and falling. The diminished sensation in your foot can also often result in injuries or rather a worsening of injuries. This could happen as many a time the lack of sensation may prevent you from detecting an injury, allowing it to fester and get worse. A wound or blister that is not discovered and keeps getting rubbed or bruised could easily get infected.

Some tests that could indicate the extent of nerve damage include nerve conduction studies, electromyography (EMG), nerve biopsy, and genetic testing.

Submitted by M T on May 10, 2010 at 01:40

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