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MYTH: Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder affects the teeth.
FACT: Charcot-Marie-Tooth, or CMT, causes muscle atrophy and sensory loss in the feet, hands, arms, and legs, and has nothing to do with teeth or dentistry. Other names for the disorder include progressive muscular atrophy, hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy, and peroneal muscular atrophy. Although CMT is one of the most common inherited neurologic disorders, it's often misdiagnosed.
MYTH: Patients with CMT can't live a normal life.
FACT: The severity of CMT can differ greatly from patient to patient, and CMT generally doesn't affect a person's intelligence, memory, or lifespan. Some patients go about their daily lives with only moderate difficulty, while others must use wheelchairs. Patients can use orthopedic devices, physical and occupational therapy, and analgesics as needed to cope with signs and symptoms.
MYTH: No cure for CMT is on the horizon.
FACT: Although CMT is currently incurable, the CMT Association has recently launched an ambitious research initiative called the Strategy to Accelerate Research (STAR). The STAR has made enormous progress and is estimated to be within 3 to 5 years of having effective therapies and possibly a cure for the most common forms of CMT.
MYTH: CMT can't be treated.
FACT: The preferred treatment for CMT is physical and occupational therapy. Gait abnormalities can be corrected by ankle-foot orthoses, which control foot drop and ankle instability and may give patients a better sense of balance. Some patients also benefit from surgery to correct orthopedic deformities.
MYTH: If a parent has CMT, his children will get the disease.
FACT: Not always. Although considered a hereditary disorder, CMT may be inherited in three different patterns, or it may occur for the first time in a family as a spontaneous mutation.
In the most common pattern (autosomal dominant), a person has a genetic mutation on a chromosome other than X or Y. He'll have one normal gene and one CMT gene, and his children will each have a 50% chance of inheriting CMT. In the other forms, the patient's children run a 25% to 50% chance of inheriting the disease.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association http://www.charcot-marie-tooth.org.
Gondim F, de Oliveria G, Thomas F. Hereditary neuropathies of the Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type. http://www.emedicine.com/neuro/topic718.
Hashmat A, Daud Z, Brannagan T. Charcot-Marie-Tooth and other hereditary motor and sensory neuropathies. http://www.emedicine.com/neuro/topic469.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease. National Institutes of Health. April 2007.
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