Important Foot Care for People with CMT
Hal Ornstein, DPM, FASPS, and Gregory Stilwell, DPM, FACFAS
- Be very careful walking barefoot; thoroughly inspect the toes and bottoms of your feet if you do walk barefoot, especially if you have been outside.
- Open toes or heels on shoes are dangerous. Wear some type of water sandal to the pool or lake that will protect your feet from injury.
- Wear shoes that allow room for your toes, yet still support your heel and arch. There should be ½ inch (a thumb’s width) between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. A rounded “toe-box” is recommended; the upper portion of the shoe should be soft and flexible. The lining should be smooth and free of ridges, wrinkles and seams.
- Don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row, and use a “shoe tree” (available at most discount stores) in the shoe to maintain that new shoe shape.
- Break in new shoes gradually and wear them only a few hours at first to prevent blisters and sore spots. Check your feet for red areas indicating too much pressure.
- Check inside your shoes daily for sharp edges and foreign objects.
- Be careful soaking your feet. Many foot soaks overly dry the feet; some create too much moisture between the toes. Many fine herbal foot soaks are available that can condition skin and help with aching in the feet. Be aware of too much moisture between the toes and athlete’s foot that can occur.
- When drying your feet, remember to get in between all your toes.
- For calloused or extra dry areas, use an oil like coconut, jojoba, or shea butter to moisturize the area and keep it from cracking. Do not apply between toes.
- Be aware that loose pieces of skin can be signs of something dangerous and have a podiatrist check out what is causing the skin to peel.
- Change your socks at least once a day and minimize cotton and nylon in them. Look instead for wicking fibers that also provide cushioning to the soles of the feet.
- Inspect your socks daily for stains, blood, or other drainage which would indicate an open sore that you may not realize you have because you cannot feel it.
- Keep your toenails trimmed. If you have reduced feeling, nerve problems or circulation problems, it is recommended that you coordinate with your podiatrist’s office to get a trained technician to trim your nails. This will help reduce the risk of cutting yourself, preventing a potential infection and many other problems.
- Corns and calluses are signs of excess pressure and should be evaluated and treated by your podiatric specialist.
- OTC/commercial brand corn and wart remedies contain harmful acids that are very dangerous for people with CMT. Please do not use them!
- Avoid extremes, such as cold or heat, and if your feet are cold, wear warm boots. Never use hot water bottles or heating pads.
- Be aware that the tops of some socks can act as a tourniquet around your calf or ankle; if your legs swell, ask your podiatrist for a recommendation for a support hose. Always avoid wearing anything tight around your legs or ankles that may in any way reduce or cut off the blood supply to your feet.
- Do not smoke! Smoking constricts the blood vessels and directly affects the blood supply to your feet.
- Crossing your legs can decrease circulation; keep feet and legs moving!
- Do not expose your legs to prolonged sunlight.
- Do not apply adhesive material such as moleskin or adhesive tape to the skin of the feet without first consulting your podiatrist.
- Most importantly, examine your feet daily, including between your toes. Using a mirror can help you to see challenging spots. If you have a difficult time seeing your feet, have a family member or friend do the inspection. If you find any sores, cuts, redness, swelling, pus, or blisters (EVEN IF YOU HAVE NO PAIN), make an appointment to see your podiatrist immediately.
- It is very important for everyone, of any age, with CMT to establish a relationship with a podiatrist. There is a saying that goes “the time to fix a leaky roof is when it is sunny.” In other words, do not wait to fix it when it is raining. APMA.org has a list of podiatrists in your area. Your family doctor is often familiar with good podiatric specialists in your area.
Please remember, PREVENTION IS THE BEST MEDICINE!
Please share this information with your family members.