Question: I have CMT and had foot reconstruction surgery last month. While in the cast and recovering I have been even more aware than ever of the muscle deficit in my other leg. That leg has had several knee surgeries through the past 20 years. Each time I had knee surgery, my quadriceps muscles have “shut down” and have needed electrical stimulation therapy to reactivate and strengthen. However, I have never been able to get them up to a normal strength again. My leg circumference is noticeably smaller and it makes things like stairs and rising from a chair challenging when I can’t use my other leg. My doctors and physical therapists have always pushed me to strengthen these muscles and build them up, but it just doesn’t seem to work. My question is–could this be part of my CMT? It’s upper leg, so I didn’t know if that “counted.” But I’ve worked so hard to strengthen and I just never get there.
CMTA Advisory Board member, Dr. Glenn Pfeffer, expert orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai writes:
Unfortunately, the quadriceps muscle can be affected by CMT. It sounds like you have worked hard at PT, but I would make sure to continue a daily home strengthening program. Make sure to stretch the knee straight each day, to make sure you don’t get a flexion contracture.
Getting up from a chair can be a challenge, and there are special pillows you can sit on that can help you spring up. A higher chair can also make it easier. Your physical therapist will know about these issues.
Different types of walking shoes with slightly different heel heights (a quarter of an inch one way or the other) can make all of the difference when walking. There is no specific brand I recommend. Try several, once you recover from your foot surgery.
Glenn Pfeffer, MD, is Director of the Foot and Ankle Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He is also a Co-Director of the Hereditary Neuropathy Program and Co-Director of the Cedars-Sinai/USC Glorya Kaufman Dance Medicine Center. Dr.Pfeffer is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in CMT. Follow him on Instagram: charcotmarietoothsurgery