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Sensory manifestations in Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease

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Involvement of sensory nerves in Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease is well known, however, sensory symptoms are usually overlooked. To assess the frequency and features of sensory symptoms in a cohort of patients with CMT, we investigated in a prospective study 52 consecutive CMT patients, diagnosed on the basis of clinical, neurophysiological, and genetic features and classified in CMT type 1 (CMT1) (20 patients, including 14 with CMT1A) and CMT type 2 (CMT2) (32 patients). Positive sensory symptoms were reported by 28 patients (54%), including neuropathic pain in 6 patients. Pain, either neuropathic or nociceptive, was present in 29 patients (56%) and in 15 patients as a main symptom. Positive sensory symptoms were present in 24 of 32 CMT2 patients (75%) and in 4 of 20 CMT1 patients (20%) (p < 0.001); there was a presenting manifestation in 11/32 CMT2 patients vs. 1/20 in CMT1 patients (p = 0.018), and one of the main features in 6/32 CMT2 patients vs. 1/20 CMT1 patients. Frequency of positive sensory symptoms in CMT1A patients was similar to that of the entire CMT1 group. Within the CMT2 group, patients with positive sensory symptoms as a main or onset feature (11 patients) had significantly later onset (median 57 vs. 25 years; p = 0.042) and less severely impaired motor action potentials than CMT2 patients without positive sensory symptoms (8 patients). Nociceptive pain was especially frequent in CMT1A patients (10/14, 71%). Sensory manifestations in CMT seem more frequent than previously thought, especially in CMT2; however, their frequency may be different in the genetic subtypes of the disease and/or an expression of phenotypic variability. Sensory symptoms, and in particular pain, may represent an important issue in the management of CMT patients, especially in a physical medicine approach.
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Keywords: CMT1; CMT2; Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease; pain; paresthesia; positive sensory symptoms

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Neurosciences, University of Parma, Parma, Italy

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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