What is Charcot-Marie-Tooth?
Charcot-Marie-Tooth is a group of rare genetic conditions that affect both sensory and Motor Peripheral Nerves. While Charcot-Marie-Tooth is a rare condition it is the most common genetically inherited neuromuscular disorder affecting approximately 1 in every 2500 people and its symptoms usually present by of 20 years of age. Common early signs include either highly arched or very flat feet, reduced sensation in the lower limbs, clumsiness, lack of agility and reports of frequent falling or tripping.
Due to the progressive nature of Charcot-Marie-Tooth, symptoms will typically begin in the feet or lower leg however will slowly progress further up the leg and into the upper body. The rate of progression and affected areas will differ from person to person due to variations in the affected genes. While your physiotherapist can identify these common signs and symptoms, a diagnosis requires a consultation with a neurologist.
Managing CMT Symptoms
People living with Charcot-Marie-Tooth have a near-normal life expectancy however will need to manage daily difficulties associated with Biomechanical and Physiological Symptoms.
Ongoing symptoms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth include:
– Muscle Loss in the affected areas
– Reduced Fine Motor Control
– Loss of Dexterity & Hand Strength
– Hammer Toe or Clubbed Feet
– Pain & Tremors
– Reduced Circulation in the Hands & Feet
Early Intervention Is Key
Charcot-Marie-Tooth is a Progressive Neurological Condition, that can be managed however, cannot be cured with current medicine practices. This means that early intervention is the key to improved lifelong outcomes.
The role of the physiotherapist is to help maintain the current level of Function and prioritise strategies that will meet individual goals. This may be focused around Stretching & Mobility, Strength & Fitness, Fine Motor Control & Dexterity or Fatigue Management & Task Optimisation.
As Charcot-Marie-Tooth is a condition with many different presentations, the treatment options will revolve around the signs and symptoms that are presenting the most cause for concern.
If you are currently living with Charcot-Marie-Tooth, reach out to one of our Physiotherapist’s to see how they might be able to help you maintain your current level of Function & Quality of Life.