Treating Charcot-Marie-Tooth: A Case of Trial and Error
Therapeutic practices for CMT are limited and require professional supervision but most internists/neurologists do not go over therapy options during doctor visits so finding a good fit can be hard. OT’s help clients with finding additional therapies and will collaborate with healthcare professionals to facilitate treatment.
Take Care of Yourself
If you smoke, stop, because it affects circulation. Ask your doctor about an exercise plan. Massage, whether you do it yourself or ask someone else to, improves circulation and may help alleviate pain. Eat a healthy diet.
Yoga and Meditation
Symptoms related to CMT can put an immense amount of stress on the body and increase your risk for depression and other psychological problems. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, predisposing patients to infections, delayed wound healing, and accelerated destruction to the nervous system. Meditation and yoga can help reduce stress while bringing harmony and balance to the body, thereby helping to manage neuropathy.
Benefits of Yoga
- Inverted postures (when the head is below the heart) increases blood flow and the lymphatic system begins to clear
- Helps to build strength and body tone
- Helps move energy
- General overall health increase
- Increases coordination, flexibility, and the ability to relax
Breath in yoga is called pranayama and it is the one thing in human system that we can control consciously and will function unconsciously. As you focus on the breath, you begin to take away the outside distractions. The breath is very powerful. If you take a long inhale and hold it for awhile, then you can start to notice certain tensions arise and can then give yourself permission to relax.
- For new yoga students, the breath is an opportunity to align the conscious with the unconscious.
- Shallow breathing (or chest breathing) causes a constriction of the chest and lung tissue over time, decreasing oxygen flow and delivery to your tissues.
- Deep, rhythmic breathing expands the diaphragm muscle, the cone-shaped muscle under your lungs, expanding the lung’s air pockets, invoking the relaxation response, and massaging the lymphatic system.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture, a form of traditional Chinese medicine, may be an effective way to manage peripheral neuropathy. Acupuncture uses pressure points throughout the body to realign the body’s energy, called the qi. The age-old art of acupuncture has been used–along with more conventional means to ease the pain felt from CMT.
Tai chi, a movement therapy similar to yoga can help align the body and mind, encourage relaxation and may distract people from the pain, even if the measure is temporary.