I Need Help Understanding These CMT Medical Terms


CMT medical terms, like most “doctor-speak” is not for the faint of heart! For example, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is referred to medically as as “hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy or a peroneal muscular atrophy caused by damage to the peripheral nerves.” Huh?

CMT Medical Terms

This list is certainly not long but here are some of the most common medical terms used when describing CMT. Being familiar with these terms will help you better understand and talk with your doctor.

Medical TermPlain EnglishCommon Use Regarding CMT
AtrophyA decline in effectiveness“Without stimulation, the muscles will atrophy
NeuromuscularRelating to nerves and muscles.Neuromuscular diseases affect the function of muscles due to problems with the nerves and muscles in your body”
PeripheralLocated on or near the edge of something.“Peripheral nerves connect the central nervous system to your muscles.”
Peripheral NervesRelay information between your brain and the rest of your body.Peripheral nerves control the functions of sensation, movement and motor coordination.”
Peroneus LongusLeg muscle, the major mover and stabilizer of your ankle.“Injury to the peroneus longus can cause difficulty with basic functional tasks such as walking and running.”
Sensory NeuropathyDamage to the body’s sensory nerves.Sensory neuropathy can cause weakness, numbness, and pain in the hands and feet.”

Images of CMT Medical Terms

Peripheral Nerves

The peripheral nerves are found outside of the main central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

Peripheral nerve is a CMT medical terms
Central & Peripheral Nervous Systems

Neuromuscular System

Neurons carry messages from the brain via the spinal cord. These messages are carried to the muscles through the peripheral nerves, which tell the muscle fiber to contract, making the muscles move.

Neuromuscular System is a CMT medical terms
Eye hand coordination

Sensory Neuropathy

CMT medical terms: Neuropathy (Peripheral Neuropathy)
Hmm. Your author has low blood pressure, uses a cane and a walker, and falls down a lot!

Muscle Atrophy

Muscle atrophy is when the muscles waste away from a lack of physical activity. This can happen when a neurological disease like CMT prevents the peripheral nerves to stop sending sending signals to your arms an legs.

Muscle atrophy is a CMT medical terms
“Shrinking” muscle due to atrophy.

Living With CMT

The biggest things to help live a life of well being with CMT is figuring out which orthopedic device to use as you grow older.

Physical Well Being

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Mental Well Being

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Types of Neuromuscular Disorders

There are many neuromuscular disorders that result in muscle weakness and fatigue. Some neuromuscular disorders have symptoms that begin in infancy, while others may appear in childhood or even adulthood. Symptoms will depend on the type of neuromuscular disorder and the areas of the body that are affected.

Common Symptoms of Neuromuscular Disorders

  • Muscle weakness that can lead to twitching, cramps, aches and pains
  • Muscle loss
  • Movement issues
  • Balance problems
  • Numbness, tingling or painful sensations
  • Droopy eyelids
  • Double vision
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Trouble breathing

Types of Neuromuscular Disorders

Causes and Risk Factors

Neuromuscular disorders can be inherited, as with CMT, or caused by a spontaneous gene mutation; some also may be caused by immune system disorders.

A wealth of further information can be found at Cedars-Sinai Health Library.

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