Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

Some habits may prevent complications caused by Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and help you manage its effects.

Started early and followed regularly, at-home activities can provide protection and relief:

  • Stretch regularly. Stretching can help improve or maintain the range of motion of your joints and reduce the risk of injury. It's also helpful in improving your flexibility, balance and coordination. If you have Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, regular stretching can prevent or reduce joint deformities that may result from uneven pulling of muscle on your bones.
  • Exercise daily. Regular exercise keeps your bones and muscles strong. Low-impact exercises, such as biking and swimming, are less stressful on fragile muscles and joints. By strengthening your muscles and bones, you can improve your balance and coordination, reducing your risk of falls.
  • Improve your stability. Muscle weakness associated with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease may cause you to be unsteady on your feet, resulting in falls and serious injury. Walking with a cane or a walker can increase your stability. Good lighting at night can help you avoid stumbling and falling.

Foot care is important

Because of foot deformities and loss of sensation, regular foot care is important to help relieve symptoms and to prevent complications:

  • Inspect your feet. Check them daily to prevent calluses, ulcers, wounds and infections.
  • Take care of your nails. Cut your nails regularly. To avoid ingrown toenails and infections, cut straight across and avoid cutting into the nailbed edges. A podiatrist can trim toenails for you if you have problems with circulation, sensation, and damage to the nerves in your feet. Your podiatrist also may be able to recommend a salon to safely trim your toenails.
  • Wear the right shoes. Choose properly fitting, protective shoes. Consider wearing boots or high-top shoes for ankle support. If you have foot deformities, such as a hammertoe, explore having shoes custom made.

Coping and support

Support groups, in conjunction with your doctor's advice, can be valuable in dealing with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. Support groups bring together people who are coping with the same kinds of challenges, and offer a setting in which people can share common problems.

Ask your doctor about support groups in your community. The Internet and your local health department, public library and telephone book also may be good sources to find a support group in your area.