There's no cure for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), but therapies are available to help reduce your symptoms and enable you to live as independently as possible.
As CMT gets worse over time, you will need to be assessed regularly to check for any new developments in your condition. How often you are assessed will depend on the type of CMT you have and the severity of your symptoms.
Your treatment programme may involve a number of healthcare professionals working together in a multidisciplinary team (MDT). You will usually have a doctor who co-ordinates your treatment programme and makes sure every aspect of your condition is closely monitored and treated if necessary.
Physiotherapy is one of the most important therapies for improving the symptoms of CMT and reducing the risk of muscle contractures (where muscles shorten and lose their normal range of movement).
Physiotherapy uses physical methods, such as massage and manipulation, to promote healing and wellbeing. It usually involves low-impact exercises such as stretching, swimming and moderate weight-training.
There is a lack of good quality medical research into the benefits of exercise for people with CMT. However, it is possible that some types of exercise are beneficial. For example:
Any exercise needs to be carefully planned as part of a personalised exercise programme. A certain level of exercise may be safe, but you risk making symptoms worse if you don't follow proper instructions or if you over-exert yourself.
Speak to your GP or physiotherapist about arranging a suitable exercise programme that will allow you to pace yourself.
Occupational Therapy involves identifying problem areas in your everyday life, such as dressing yourself, then working out practical solutions.
Occupational Therapy will be useful if muscle weakness in your arms and hands makes it difficult for you to do day-to-day tasks, such as dressing or writing.
An Occupational Therapist will teach you how to use adaptive aids to compensate for your difficulties, such as clothing that has clasps instead of buttons, and magnetic tubes that allow you to pick up objects.
Orthoses are devices worn inside your shoes or on your legs to improve the strength and functionality of your limbs, or to correct your gait (the way you walk).
There are several different types of orthoses, including:
It is unusual to completely lose the ability to walk, but you may benefit from using a wheelchair occasionally. Moving around can be difficult if you have CMT and using a wheelchair every now and again can give you a chance to rest.
If CMT causes significant deformities, surgery may be needed to correct them. Some of the types of surgery that may be carried out are described below.
Living with CMT can be challenging and the condition can have an impact on many aspects of your life, including:
The charity CMT UK can also offer help and support.