Earlier this week, Alan Jackson opened up about a neurological disorder he has been battling for a decade. Jackson told Today that he has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. He informed the show, and his fans, that the disorder is affecting his balance and ability to stand. By extension, it is limiting his ability to do live shows.
Alan Jackson gave some details in the Today Show interview. For instance, he said that Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) wouldn’t kill him. Additionally, he noted that it was a neurological disorder that he inherited from his dad. However, he didn’t go much further than that.
The short version is that it’s serious and will progressively get worse. The worst-case scenario for people with CMT is partial paralysis and loss of sensation in limbs. However, there’s more to it than that. So, let’s dig deeper into the disease that is affecting one of country music’s biggest stars.
Alan Jackson’s Neurological Condition Explained
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke states that there are several types of CMT all of which are the result of a genetic mutation. That genetic mutation is commonly inherited, but can also develop suddenly. If that happens, they can then pass the disorder on to their children. Overall, the symptoms of the types of CMT cause the issues that Alan Jackson is experiencing.
For instance, early symptoms of CMT include “weakness or paralysis of the foot and lower leg muscles.” This can cause difficulty lifting the feet as well as a “high-stepped gait,” which can cause frequent tripping or falling. Like Alan Jackson, many people with CMT will suffer balance issues.
Additionally, CMT has some noticeable physical symptoms. For instance, the disorder might cause foot deformities like hammertoe or high arches. Also, the lower legs may start to take on the shape of an “inverted champagne bottle,” due to loss of muscle mass in the lower leg.
As the disease progresses, muscle atrophy and loss of sensation in the extremities are common. Hand weakness is another common symptom. So is a reduction in the ability to feel heat, cold, or pressure in the hands and feet. Also, those with CMT may experience loss of fine motor skills.
There is no cure for CMT. However, there are several treatment options. Those options include orthopedic aids. Additionally, some people with CMT might opt for orthopedic surgery to correct some of the physical deformities. Those who experience severe nerve pain can get pain relievers like gabapentin. One of the most important treatment options, though, is occupational and physical therapy. This allows CMT patients to remain mobile and may slow nerve degeneration and subsequent paralysis.
There’s no word on what treatment options Alan Jackson has chosen. However, he stated in the Today interview that he had no plans of quitting the music business any time soon.