Advancing Neuromuscular, Musculoskeletal, & Electrodiagnostic Medicine

Hereditary Motor Sensory Neuropathy

What is Hereditary Motor Sensory Neuropathy?

Hereditary motor sensory neuropathy (HMSN), also known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, is an inherited, progressive disease of the nerves with weakness and numbness more pronounced in the legs than the arms. The nerves stop sending messages to different areas of the body, like the hands and feet, because parts of the nerve cells deteriorate. The muscles in the hands and feet get weak because they no longer receive messages from the nerves, and therefore are not being used. Symptoms vary greatly. There can be fatigue, pain, lack of balance, feeling, reflexes, sight and hearing. There can be high arched feet, hammer toes, foot drop, and foot deformities, and possibly scoliosis.


Who gets Hereditary Motor Sensory Neuropathy?

150,000 Americans will be affected by HMSN. It is found around in the world and in anybody. Most often it is inherited. The chance of offspring getting HMSN is 50% if one parent has it. However, it can also be contracted randomly.


How is Hereditary Motor Sensory Neuropathy diagnosed?

Those with HMSN need to undergo a complete clinical evaluation. This evaluation should check for muscle atrophy, weakness, and sensory responses, and should include a detailed patient history. EMGs and motor nerve conduction velocities can help diagnose the type of HMSN as well as measure its severity. Specialized DNA blood tests are helpful in some cases.


How is Hereditary Motor Sensory Neuropathy treated?

Currently, no definitive treatment exists for HMSN. It cannot be stopped or reversed, but it can reach a point where the progression steadies itself. Current treatment consists of physical therapy, stretching, strengthening, moderate activity, braces, and orthopedic surgery may help manage these symptoms. Most people with HMSN can walk throughout their life and are self-sufficient. HMSN is generally not fatal or life threatening.


More information on Hereditary Motor Sensory Neuropathy

Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association
National Society for Genetic Counselors
Hereditary Disease Foundation
Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation
Alliance of Genetic Support Groups