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Guide by Condition: Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease

Posted by Mike Phipps on December 10, 2018

A white panel with the words – Charcot-Marie Tooth Disease – on it


Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease or CMT is the most common inherited neuromuscular disorder. Living with a long-term condition like CMT, where symptoms change over time, means that new ways of managing and coping with the condition will be necessary but not impossible.

What is Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease?

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a group of hereditary conditions that damage the peripheral nerves. It is also known as hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy (HMSN). The peripheral nerves are those found outside the main central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) that control the muscles and relay sensory information from the limbs to the brain.

There are currently around 23,000 people in the UK living with CMT. People with the condition may have muscle weakness in the feet, ankles, legs and hands, gait (an awkward way of walking), either highly arched or very flat feet and may experience numbness in the feet, arms and hands.  Symptoms of CMT normally start to appear between the ages of 5 and 15 however it has been known in some cases for them not to develop until well into middle age or later.

What are the treatments and therapy for CMT?

Although the condition doesn’t affect a person's life-span, it is a progressive condition where symptoms slowly get worse, so it is important that symptoms are managed with the right support and specialist care. Treatments can help to relieve symptoms, aid mobility and increase independence. These treatments can include:

  • Surgery (may be needed to correct problems such as muscle contractures or flat feet)
  • Occupational therapy
  • Orthotics
  • Physical therapy
  • Mobility Aids

In addition to the treatment you receive, there are some general precautions that can be taken to help alleviate symptoms and maintain a healthy lifestyle such as:

  • Taking good care of your feet - check and clean regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol
  • Avoid medicines that can cause nerve damage
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine

More information and support


Muscular Dystrophy UK -

Fact sheet -