Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a group of progressive disorders that affect the peripheral nerves. Peripheral nerves connect the brain and spinal cord to muscles as well as sensory cells that detect sensations such as touch, pain, heat, and sound.
Symptoms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease usually begin in adolescence or early adulthood, but onset may occur anytime from early childhood to mid-adulthood. Symptoms vary in severity. Some people never realize they have the disorder, but most have a moderate amount of physical disability, and a small percentage of people experience severe weakness. Many people with this disorder lead active lives and have normal life expectancies.
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is the most common inherited disorder that involves the peripheral nerves, affecting an estimated 150,000 people in the United States. It occurs in all races and ethnic groups. Worldwide, this disorder affects about 1 in 3,300 people.