What are the Symptoms of CMT?
First signs include frequent tripping, ankle sprains, clumsiness and “burning” or pins-and-needles sensations in the feet or hands.
Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammertoes are common.
Muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet may lead to foot drop, poor balance and other gait problems.
Muscular atrophy in the hands often causes people to have difficulty with tasks involving manual dexterity, such as writing and manipulating zippers and buttons.
Abnormal sensation in the extremities and an inability to sense where one’s body is in space are also common, and many people experience neuropathy, muscle or joint pain.
Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures is typical and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.
Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties, scoliosis, kyphosis and hearing loss.
A CMT diagnosis involves clinical evaluation of muscle function and atrophy, testing of sensory responses, and electromyographic and nerve conduction studies. Many types of CMT can also be diagnosed by genetic testing. Click here for more information on diagnosing CMT.
Is there a Treatment for CMT?
Although there is no drug treatment for CMT, physical therapy and moderate activity (but not overexertion) can help maintain muscle strength, endurance and flexibility. Mechanical supports like AFOs (ankle-foot orthoses) and custom-made shoes can improve gait and balance. When medically indicated, orthopedic surgery can correct deformity and help maintain mobility and function. Occupational therapy and adaptive devices can help people perform activities of daily living.
Any medications people with CMT should avoid?
YES! Glad you asked! Some medications are potentially toxic to people with CMT. Vincristine has been proven hazardous and should be avoided by all CMT patients. Taxols also pose a high risk to people with CMT. The complete list of potentially neurotoxic medications can be viewed here. Before taking any medication or changing medications, be sure your physician is fully aware of your medical condition, and discuss any possible side effects they may have on CMT. Have a drug/medication question? Visit www.cmtausa.org/medquest or email firstname.lastname@example.org.