Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is an inherited neurological disorder that often causes problems with walking, speaking, breathing and swallowing.
Charcot-Marie Tooth disease (CMT) is one of the most common inherited neurological diseases in the United States, as it affects roughly 1 in 2,500 people. Named for the three physicians who first identified it in 1886, CMT is also known as hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy (HMSN) or peroneal muscular atrophy.
CMT affects the peripheral nerves, which lie outside the brain and spinal cord and control the muscles and sensory organs in the limbs. This is why a common symptom of the condition is trouble walking. Most people with this condition live a normal lifespan, as CMT is not considered a fatal disease.
Usually beginning in adolescence* or young adulthood** (ages 10 to 25 years), symptoms of CMT include:
Difficulty walking, speaking or swallowing
Foot deformities, such as high arches or hammertoes
High-stepped gait with frequent tripping or falls
Weakness of the foot and lower leg muscles
As CMT progresses over the years, additional symptoms can slowly develop, such as:
Difficulty with fine motor skills in the fingers, hands, wrists, feet and tongue
Weakness and muscle atrophy (breakdown) in the hands