Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT) refers to a range of inherited genetic disorders affecting one’s peripheral nervous system that controls one’s ability to move and feel parts of one’s body, be it hands or feet. ‘Neuropathies’ is a term that designates disorders of one’s peripheral nerve stretching from the spinal cord to the muscles.

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT)

CMT is a group of conditions that are inherited and they damage the peripheral nerves. This condition is also called the hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy (HMSN).

CMT is a degenerative nerve condition that usually occurs among young adults and adolescents. The muscles of the patient weaken and decrease in size and sensation. Other symptoms include high arches and hammertoes.

The peripheral nervous system is located outside the central nervous system which consists of the brain and spinal cord. The PNS’s function is to relay sensory information like touch and pain through impulse generation. The impulses then travel to the brain.

Effects of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease

The following may be noticed among people with CMT:

  • Weakened muscles in the ankles, feet, and hands.
  • Abnormal gait.
  • High arches or flat feet.
  • Numbness in their hands and feet.

The nerves of the arms and the legs of people suffering from CMT don’t work well. This may lead to wasting away of the muscles connected to these nerves. The limb muscles are the most affected. As time goes by, these muscles weaken and become hard to control.

The effects of CMT vary. In less severe cases, an example of a solution to this problem is simply using high-sided shoes. In other cases, the patients can use walking aids, for example a walking stick. In severe cases, the patient may require complete immobilization or use a wheelchair.

Symptoms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease

Most of the symptoms usually occur during childhood or early teenage years. The legs are often the first parts to suffer. The symptoms of this condition are usually progressive and may include:

  • Weakening of the hand and feet muscles.
  • Weakness in the ankle, often associated with ‘rolling over.’ This is one of the early symptoms. The person may later lose his or her ability to bend the foot upwards.
  • Hand activities like opening a tap or screw-top jars become difficult to carry out.
  • Lawed toes and high arches.
  • ‘Slapping’ of the feet while walking or high-stepping gait.
  • Muscle wasting on the limbs.
  • Loss of balancing abilities and occasional falling.
  • Reduced sensation.
  • Curvature of the spine in an abnormal way in some cases (scoliosis).

Mostly, the symptoms of this condition start to show up between the age of five and fifteen years, although some cases go beyond this bracket.

Since CMT is a progressive condition, its symptoms gradually get worse and if not treated.

Treatment for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease

Providing modes of exercise, footwear, and orthotics are some of the treatment that podiatrists use for patient of CMT.

Contact us on 03 9077 5915 for further assessment and treatment.