The Early Signs of the Disease That Could End Alan Jackson's Performing Career


Legendary country music star Alan Jackson just revealed he has a condition that may put an end to his decades-long touring career. Jackson has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a degenerative condition that affects the nervous system, resulting in balance issues and compromised muscles. This may be the first you've heard of the disease, which is why it's important to learn what early symptoms come with it. Read on to learn about the first signs of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

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Alan Jackson revealed that he has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
Tony Norkus / Shutterstock

On Sept. 28, Jackson gave an exclusive interview to Today, where he revealed that he had been diagnosed with a degenerative nerve condition, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. "I have this neuropathy and neurological disease," Jackson said. "It's genetic that I inherited from my daddy … There's no cure for it, but it's been affecting me for years. And it's getting more and more obvious." The star acknowledged that the disease is affecting his ability to perform the way he once could. "I know I'm stumbling around on stage. And now I'm having a little trouble balancing, even in front of the microphone, and so I just feel very uncomfortable," he continued.

The singer said he "never wanted to do the big retirement tour like people do, then take a year off and then come back. I think that's kinda cheesy." However, Jackson is not sure what the future holds for him in light of his condition. "I'm not saying I won't be able to tour. I'll try to do as much as I can," he said.

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Early signs of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease include weakness, foot drop, and high arched feet.

According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), the most common initial presentation of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is "distal weakness and atrophy, which manifest with foot drop and pes cavus (high arched feet)." Foot drop is a muscular weakness or paralysis that makes it challenging to lift the front part of your foot and toes. Other signs of the condition, according to the Mayo Clinic, include weakness in your legs, ankles, and feet; loss of muscle bulk in your legs and feet; curled toes; decreased ability to run; difficulty lifting your foot; awkward or higher than normal gait; frequent tripping; and a loss of feeling in your legs and feet.

While symptoms generally begin in the feet and legs, as the disease progresses, symptoms can spread to the hands and arms, the Mayo Clinic notes. The severity of these symptoms varies widely from person to person.

There is no cure for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), there is no cure for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. However, the disabling symptoms can be managed through physical and occupational therapies, braces and orthopedic devices, pain relievers, and orthopedic surgery. The NINDS says maintaining mobility, flexibility, and muscle strength is essential for people with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. Additionally, diagnosing the condition early and beginning a treatment program can delay or reduce nerve degeneration and muscle weakness before the symptoms progress to the point of disability.

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But the condition is not fatal.
Tony Norkus / Shutterstock

Although living with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease can pose additional challenges and cause your health to deteriorate more rapidly, it's not lethal by itself. "It's not going to kill me. It's not deadly," Jackson told Today. According to the NINDS, the disease doesn't alter life expectancy. The condition only rarely affects muscles involved in vital functions like breathing.

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