by Dr. Brant McCartan
One of the most common inheritable neurologic disorders affecting Americans is Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT). This disease usually begins to show signs and symptoms in older children and young adults. Here at Milwakee Foot Specialists, we think it is important to know a little about CMT so that you can be on the lookout for signs in your children. Like many medical issues, the earlier CMT is diagnose, the easier it is to handle.
CMT is a peripheral nerve disorder that affects both motor and sensory nerves. This means that the nerves that are further away from the brain can begin to have difficulty carrying information to and from the brain. A patient may have difficulty controlling their foot and leg muscles (the motor component) and they also may begin to lose feeling in the same area (the sensory component). Unfortunately there is no cure for CMT, however we can work to treat the symptoms and slow the disease’s progression.
It is also important to recognize that CMT can affect all of a child’s limbs. The legs, arms, feet, and hands can all show symptoms. However, in most cases, the disease shows signs first in the feet and legs. This is due to the fact that legs are longer than arms. The affected nerves have a longer distance to carry information, making these nerves more likely to fail. Since the feet are affected first, Podiatrists are on the front line in diagnosing and treating CMT.
Be on the lookout for some of the signs of CMT. These include decreased sensation in the feet and hands, muscle weakness, muscle atrophy (or decreased muscle bulk), curled toes (or hammertoes), frequent tripping or falling, and a decreased ability to run. Also, if you or other family members have been diagnosed with CMT, the disease more likely to show in your children.
Overall CMT is quite a debilitating disease. There, however, are many steps that can be taken to decrease the disease’s symptoms and slow its spread. If you have any concern of CMT, give us a call and set up an appointment.