Do you have Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease? The disease afflicts one in 2,500 people in the United States or 2.6 million people worldwide. It is an inherited neurological disorder. It was identified in 1886 in Paris by Jean-Martin Charcot and Pierre Marie, and in Cambridge, England, by Howard Henry Tooth. Also known as hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy or peroneal muscular atrophy, the disease includes a group of disorders that harm peripheral nerves. These nerves are located outside the brain and spinal cord. They feed the muscles and sensory organs in legs and arms.
What Is the Cause?
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease happens due to inherited mutations in genes that produce proteins that are part of the structure of the peripheral nervous system. Additionally, although rare, the disease can occur through spontaneous mutation of a person’s gene. It affects swallowing, walking and breathing. You can find the disease in many ways because there are many genetic mutations on record. And, patients can have two or three variations of the condition depending on the number of mutated genes they have.
How Is It Diagnosed?
Doctors look at family history, your medical history, and a neurological examination. The physical examination will show muscle weakness, decreased muscle bulk, pain in the legs, inability to control the position of the foot, and deformities in the feet. Neurological tests, including nerve conduction studies, nerve, biopsy electromyography, and/or genetic testing also are available to be completed. Although it isn’t curable, the disease can be treated with exercise, stretching, plus physical and occupational therapy. The prognosis ranges from fair to poor because the disease is progressive. You might also experience poor balance.
It often shows up during adolescence, but it could be diagnosed in mid-life too. This disease also can cause hip displacement and scoliosis. Many people with the illness have chronic shortening of muscles or tendons around joints. Therefore, your joints won’t move correctly. This problem also can affect the facial muscles and the jaw joint. People complain of frequent muscle cramping. When you have Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, you can have mild to severe nerve pain. You also might have to deal with tremors or vision and hearing problems.
What Can You Do?
When you have the disease, you have to be sure you keep your muscle strength, flexibility, and mobility. Start treating your muscles early and reduce nerve degeneration and muscle weakness before it goes too far. You will have to begin physical therapy that includes muscle strength training, muscle and ligament stretching, and some aerobic exercise. You will have to create a specialized exercise program approved by your doctor that builds stamina, endurance and maintains overall health. So, don’t delay visiting a specialist.
New Research Is Coming
The National Institutes of Health is conducting ongoing research. These studies are trying to identify more of the mutant genes and proteins that cause the variations of the disease, find the causes of nerve degeneration and muscle atrophy, and develop treatments to stop or reverse the processes.
Ask Kirkland Family Dentistry about the connection of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and your oral health. The dental office staff is willing to help you understand what to expect as your disease progresses. Call now for an appointment to discuss your condition.