Charcot Marie Tooth disease
The disease is named after the three physicians who first identified it in 1886 – Jean Martin Charcot and Pierre Marie in Paris and Howard Henry Tooth in Cambridge.
CMT disease comprises a group of disorders that affect peripheral nerves,these nerves lie outside the brain and spinal cord and supply the muscles and sensory organs in the limbs.
CMT is caused by gene mutations that affect the normal function of the peripheral nerves. Sometimes these mutations damage the nerves themselves, others damage the myelin sheath which is the protective coating that surrounds the nerve. Both result in weaker messages being sent out to one’s limb extremities and back.
In the most common kinds of CMT, symptoms usually begin before the age of 20. They may include:
- Foot drop
- Foot deformity (high arched feet)
- Curled toes (hammer toes)
- Loss of muscle in lower leg
- Numbness in the feet
- Difficulty with balance
- Later similar symptoms may also appear in the arms and hands
CMT is progressive however it does not affect life span.
Depending on the type and severity of an individual’s symptoms bespoke orthotics can help to alleviate some problems associated with the condition. AFOs provide corrective forces and support to achieve a normal walking gait and provide protection. For those with high arched feet or hammer toes specialist footwear may be prescribed.