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Alan Jackson has opened up about living with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), an incurable, degenerative nerve condition that has affected his ability to perform.
In a new interview with TODAY, the 62-year-old country music icon revealed that he received his CMT diagnosis 10 years ago, and has been quietly managing the symptoms behind closed doors.
"I have this neuropathy and neurological disease," Jackson told TODAY. "It's genetic that I inherited from my daddy. There's no cure for it, but it's been affecting me for years."
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of CMT include weakness in legs, ankles and feet, difficulty walking and running, frequent tripping and falling, and loss of sensation in legs and feet. Although it's possible to experience symptoms at any age, most people report first noticing signs of CMT in adolescence and early adulthood.
According to Jackson, his symptoms have become increasingly obvious with age and have made performing difficult.
"It's getting more and more obvious," he said. "And 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."
Jackson added that the condition is comparable to muscular dystrophy or Parkinson's disease. However, he assured fans that while the condition is undoubtedly inconvenient, it is, thankfully, not life-threatening.
According to Cedars Sinai, many people with CMT remain active and maintain a normal life expectancy. However, in some rare cases, it's possible for nerve damage to impact the muscles related to breathing, which causes some people to require assisted breathing devices.
The "Remember When" singer, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 2017, explained that despite his health-related struggle, he doesn't plan on hanging up his guitar just yet.
"I never wanted to do the big retirement tour, like people do, then take a year off and then come back," Jackson told TODAY. "I think that's kinda cheesy. And I'm not saying I won't be able to tour. I'll try to do as much as I can."
Jackson added that he remains focused on his music and hopes his songs stand the test of time.
"I've always believed that the music is the most important thing. The songs," he said. "And I guess that's what I'd like to [leave] if I had a legacy."