Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is a group of inherited conditions that damage the peripheral nerves.

It's also known as hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy (HMSN).

The peripheral nerves are found outside the main central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). They control the muscles and relay sensory information, such as the sense of touch, from the limbs to the brain.

People with CMT may have:

  • muscle weaknessin the feet, ankles, legs and hands
  • an awkward way of walking (gait)
  • highly arched or very Flat feet
  • numbnessin thefeet, arms and hands

The symptoms of CMT usually start to appearbetween the ages of five and 15, although they sometimes don't develop until well into middle age or later.

CMT is a progressive condition. This means the symptoms slowly get worse, makingeveryday tasks increasingly difficult.

This fault means the nerves become damaged over time.

A child with CMT may haveinheritedthe genetic fault responsible for the disease from one or both of their parents.

There's no single faulty gene that causes CMT. There are many varieties of CMT that are caused by different genetic faultsand these can be inherited in several different ways.

The chances of passing CMT to your child depend on the specific genetic faultsyou and your partner carry.

If your GP suspects CMT, they'll refer youto a neurologist (a doctor who specialises in treating conditions of the nervous system) for further tests to confirm the diagnosis.

You should also see your GP if you or your partner have a family history of CMT and are considering having a baby. Your GP can refer you for genetic counselling , where you can discuss your concerns andthe options available with a genetics specialist.

However treatments can help relieve symptoms, aid mobility and increase the independence and quality of life for people with the condition.

These treatments may include:

  • physiotherapy and certain types of exercise
  • occupational therapy
  • walking aids

In some cases, surgery may be needed to correct problems such as Flat feet and muscle contractures (where muscles shorten and lose their normal range of movement).

Living with a long-term, progressive condition canalso have a significant emotional impact.

Some people find it helpful to speak to others with the condition through support groups. You may also benefit from a talking therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) .

You can find more information, support and practical advice about living with CMT onthe CMT UK website. CMT UK is the main charity and support group for people with CMT in the UK.

Information about you

If you have CMT, your clinical team will pass information about you on to the National Congenital Anomaly and Rare Diseases Registration Service (NCARDRS).

This helps scientists look for better ways to prevent and treat this condition. You can opt out of the register at any time.

Find out more about the register .

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016