Do you have high arches in your feet? What about numbness or weakness in your legs?
You could have a somewhat common condition called “Charcot-Marie-Tooth” (CMT).
What is CMT?
About 2.8 million people worldwide have CMT. So that makes it somewhat common. It’s not very common, but people do get it. It especially affects diabetics.
It’s named after the three physicians who discovered it in 1886: Jean-Martin Charcot, Pierre Marie, and Howard Henry Tooth.
CMT is a kind of “peripheral neuropathy.” That just means it damages your peripheral nerves. Diabetes is the most common cause of CMT. It can also by genetically inherited, even if the affected person’s parents don’t have the condition. It affects people of all races and ethnicities.
Typically, you begin experiencing symptoms before the age of 20. You may:
What a Podiatrist Does To Relieve CMT
Say you notice these symptoms. Or, maybe you’ve already been diagnosed. It’s not a pleasant feeling.
What can be done?
Fortunately, in many cases it’s possible to relieve CMT without surgery. Supportive high-top shoes or low-cut ones with added depth may be prescribed to add to balance.
Over-the-counter carbon graphite dropfoot braces help you walk more comfortably. AFOs (ankle foot orthotics) may also be prescribed. In some cases, they may be customized, with a mold being made of your foot, ankle, and leg.
If you have pain present, a prescription medication like Lyrica or gabapentin may be prescribed. Exercise programs that feature range-of-motion stretching, general stretching, and gentle strengthening may be assigned. Pilates, gyrotronics, yoga, and Tai Chi classes may be recommended because of their emphasis on balance.
In some cases, surgery may be recommended also. However, that’s the method of last resort. Minimally invasive surgery with fluoroscopy (which uses X-rays to study range of motion) may be used. A Jones procedure, which fuses the big toe’s small joint, transfers the tendon that pulls the big toe down to the top of the big toe, and transferring one tendon that pulls the big toe up into the midfoot, may also make sense.
Podiatrists play a strong role in recovery from CMT. They can help you identify the most sensible treatment, and many times repair your CMT without using surgery.