Researchers have yet to develop a cure for Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) or a treatment that addresses the condition’s underlying cause.

Therapies that are available today — none of which is a medication — are designed to help manage the condition and maintain patients’ quality of life.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy and exercise are the starting point for managing CMT. If possible, treatment should begin before muscle weakness progresses to a noticeable disability, because physical therapy can help slow or reduce muscle weakening.

A physical therapist should help a patient develop a tailored program, because too much or the wrong type of exercise can cause further damage.

Physiotherapy involves:

  • Muscle strength training, which can improve general strength and reduce foot drop.
  • Muscle and ligament stretching, which can reduce the risk of joint deformities.
  • Stamina training, to prevent fatigue and increase a person’s ability to carry out everyday tasks.
  • Moderate low-impact aerobic exercise such as cycling or swimming, which will maintain cardiovascular and general health.

Occupational therapy

An occupational therapist can help identify areas of everyday life that can be a challenge to a person with CMT and suggest solutions.

For example, problems dressing could be solved by switching from clothes with buttons to clothes with clasps or snaps. Difficulty opening doors could be addressed by adding rubber grips to doorknobs.

Orthopedic devices

A range of equipment and adaptations can maintain CMT patients’ mobility and improve their quality of life.

Leg or ankles braces can help with walking or climbing stairs. Boots can offer additional ankle support. And specially designed orthopedic shoes or inserts can improve stability and correct problems with walking.

Thumb splits can help overcome weakness in gripping objects, and magnetic tubes can be used to pick up certain objects.

CMT may cause scoliosis, or a curved spine, which can be improved with a back brace.

Most CMT patients do not usually lose their ability to walk, but some may benefit from a wheelchair because walking can be tiring or painful.

Surgery

CMT can lead to deformities that cause pain or make mobility difficult. Doctors may advise surgery to correct this if non-surgical options fail. This includes:

  • Osteotomy, which involves repositioning bones in the feet to correct severe flatness.
  • Arthrodesis, or the fusing of the three main joints in the feet to correct flat feet and heel deformities and relieve joint pain.
  • Plantar fascia release, or removing part of an inflamed tendon in the heel and repositioning others to relieve heel pain.
  • Spinal surgery, if a back brace is not enough to improve severe cases of scoliosis.

Medication

No drugs are available to manage or treat CMT, but patients may be prescribed pain medication to control pain from muscle cramps or nerve damage.

Lifestyle

To avoid worsened symptoms, experts make a number of lifestyle recommendations. These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight, to prevent additional strain while moving.
  • Avoiding alcohol, which can reduce a CMT patient’s stability.
  • Avoiding caffeine and nicotine, which can contribute to shaking.
  • Avoiding medications that can cause nerve damage.  The CMT Association lists some of them.
  • Checking feet regularly for infections that could be missed due to reduced sensation.
  • Stretching and exercising daily.

Note: Charcot Marie Tooth News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.