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What Is The Prognosis For Charcot Marie Tooth & What Are Its Lifestyle Changes?

Charcot Marie Tooth disease (CMT) is a hereditary peripheral nerve disorder. Your peripheral nerves are present outside your brain and spinal cord. These nerves connect your central nervous system to the rest of your body. The disease affects primarily your legs and arms.1

What Is The Prognosis For Charcot Marie Tooth?

Although individuals in rare instances may develop weakness of respiratory muscles weakness, Charcot Marie Tooth is not regarded as a deadly disease. Individuals with most types of Charcot Marie Tooth are expected to live normally.1

Possible Complications Of Charcot Marie Tooth

People with Charcot Marie Tooth can experience a number of complications. Most common complications experienced in the later stages of the disease include:

Breathing can be difficult if the condition affects the nerves that control the diaphragm. The patient may need bronchodilator drugs or a ventilator. Being overweight or obese can make breathing worse.

Depression can result from the mental stress, anxiety, and frustration of living with any progressive illness. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help patients with Charcot Marie Tooth to cope better with their daily lives and, if necessary, with depression.

Although Charcot Marie Tooth cannot be cured, some measures can help prevent further problems. These include good care of the feet, as there is an increased risk of injury and infection, avoidance of caffeine and tobacco, and not drinking too much alcohol.

Even though individuals with Charcot Marie Tooth are expected to live normally and the disability level differs extensively, Charcot Marie Tooth impacts every part of life in most instances. The disorder is physical itself, but it might pose emotional and social difficulties as well.

The disorder is hereditary, so if someone in your close family has the illness, you are at a greater chance of developing it. Other triggers of neuropathy can induce symptoms identical to or even worsen to this disease, such as diabetes. Also, drugs including paclitaxel and vincristine (chemotherapeutic agents) and other medicines may produce worse symptoms. Make sure that your physician is aware of all the drugs you are receiving.

Scientists are researching a range of prospective treatments that might treat the disease in the future. Potential treatments include gene therapy, drugs, and procedures in vitro that might help in preventing future generations from passing on the disease.4,5

What Are The Lifestyle Changes For Charcot Marie Tooth?

The severity of Charcot Marie Tooth symptoms varies from person to person. Some therapies are available to assist you to manage the disorder. Charcot Marie Tooth can lead to deformities and loss of sensation in the feet. To relieve symptoms and avoid complications, it is advisable to check your feet daily for wounds, ulcers, and infections. Wear properly fitted shoes that provide good support to the ankle. If you have foot deformities, you should invest in tailor-made shoes.

Take good care of your muscles and joints to reduce the risk of injury and loss of function. For example, stretch regularly and exercise daily. If you are unsteady on your feet, use a stick or walker to improve your stability.

The disease produces weaker and smaller muscles in the legs and in later stages in the arms. You might experience sensation loss as well with contractions in muscles causing walking difficulties. Also prevalent are deformities of the foot like high arches and hammertoes. Symptoms generally start in the feet and legs but ultimately affect arms and hands. The disease symptoms typically occur in adolescent years or early twenties, but can also occur in midlife.2,3


Charcot Marie Tooth is a genetic disorder that usually results in muscle weakness in arms and feet, which can prevent movement or other activities of an individual, reducing the ability to live independently. It is important to start symptomatic treatment as early as possible. Adherence to a healthy lifestyle, regular stretching, and mild exercise prevent the disorder to become too severe and people may continue normal daily activities self-sufficiently. Life expectancy is not shortened in most of the cases. In rare occasions, the disease may get life-threatening by affecting the lungs leading to breathing disorder.


  1. Khadilkar SV, Yadav RS, Patel BA. Charcot–Marie–Tooth Disease. Neuromuscular Disorders: Springer; 2018:421-439.
  2. Young P, De Jonghe P, Stögbauer F, Butterfass‐Bahloul T. Treatment for Charcot‐Marie‐tooth disease. Cochrane database of systematic reviews. 2008(1).
  3. McCorquodale D, Pucillo EM, Johnson NE. Management of Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease: improving long-term care with a multidisciplinary approach. Journal of multidisciplinary healthcare. 2016;9:7.
  4. Laura M, Ramdharry G, Singh D, Skorupinska M, Reilly M. Orthopaedic complications in Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease: results of a prospective study. 2016.
  5. Laura M, Ramdharry G, Singh D, Skorupinska M, Reilly M. Managing Orthopaedic Complications In Charcot Marie Tooth Disease. BMJ Publishing Group Ltd; 2016.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 7, 2019

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