The hypothesis of overwork weakness in Charcot-Marie-Tooth: a critical evaluation

J Rehabil Med. 2009 Jan;41(1):32-4. doi: 10.2340/16501977-0274.


Objective: It has been reported that the non-dominant hand of patients with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is stronger than the dominant hand as a result of overwork weakness. The objective of this study was to determine if this hypothesis could be verified in our population.

Design: Survey.

Subjects: Twenty-eight patients with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type I or II from a rehabilitation department of a university hospital in the Netherlands.

Methods: The strength of 3 intrinsic muscle groups of the dominant and non-dominant hand were determined using the Medical Research Council scale and the Rotterdam Intrinsic Hand Myometer. Furthermore, grip strength, pinch and key grip strength were measured.

Results: We found no differences in muscle strength for the dominant and non-dominant hand, except for a stronger key grip strength of the dominant hand in patients with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type II.

Conclusion: In our population, the dominant hand of patients with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type I and II was equally strong as the non-dominant hand, suggesting that there is no presence of overwork weakness in the dominant hand in our group of patients. This implies that patients with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease do not have to limit the use of their hands in daily life in order to prevent muscle strength loss.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease / physiopathology*
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease / rehabilitation
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Weakness / physiopathology*
  • Pinch Strength / physiology
  • Young Adult