Eric Clapton: Peripheral Neuropathy May End Career and More

Read Time: 4:49
Published: Sep 29th, 2016
Eric Clapton Career May End, Peripheral Neuropathy
Article Updated:August 30th, 2020

Eric Clapton is suffering from a condition that could end his ability to perform. A 2016 story in Classic Rock Magazine quotes the then 71-year-old rock icon that peripheral neuropathy may end his career. In a 2018 BBC radio interview, he disclosed he was also suffering from tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying health issue such as age-related hearing loss, and past ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH) says an estimated 20 million people in the United States have some form of peripheral neuropathy. It develops as a result of injury to the peripheral nervous system — the vast communications network that transmits information between the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and every other part of the body. (Neuropathy means nerve disease or damage.) 

Clapton is not the only rock performer who has publicly spoken out about this health issue. Many musicians have started to speak out about their peripheral neuropathy. Musicians are not alone with aging issues, but few of us have "enjoyed" the rock n roll lifestyle that may have contributed to their health problems. 

Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms 

Symptoms can range from numbness or tingling to pricking sensations (paresthesia), or muscle weakness. Some areas of a person's body may become abnormally sensitive, leading to an exaggeratedly intense or distorted touch experience. In such cases, pain may occur in response to a stimulus that does not normally provoke pain. 

Severe symptoms may include burning pain (especially at night), muscle wasting, paralysis, or organ or gland dysfunction. Damage to nerves that supply internal organs may impair digestion, sweating, sexual function, and urination. In the most extreme cases, breathing may become difficult, or organ failure may occur.

According to the Mayo Clinic, tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. Many people are affected by tinnitus; an estimated 15 to 20 percent of people experience this condition.

"I've had quite a lot of pain over the last year."

 "You feel like you have electric shocks going down your leg."

“I’ve had quite a lot of pain over the last year.”

 “You feel like you have electric shocks going down your leg.”

Eric Clapton, a famous rock n roll guitarist

For a famous rock n' roll guitarist, this could be a career disaster. However, more than Clapton's career could be at stake, Clapton could see mobility issues since peripheral neuropathy can affect the motor nerves. 

Those who suffer from this condition could end up with a partial or total loss of movement and muscle control. It can also cause muscle atrophy. Atrophy is where a person could lose some muscle tissue. 

Plus, many people lack muscle control and dexterity, which can affect one's ability to do normal tasks and activities-of-daily-living. Often, this leads to a person requiring help with those activities of daily living (ADL's), which would require them to need extended long-term care services as they get older.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse Possible Cause

The causes of peripheral neuropathy include toxins such as alcohol and drug abuse. As Clapton's neuropathy is in his legs, rather than his hands, it is unlikely that his guitar-playing directly caused the condition. 

Clapton is quoted as saying drug and alcohol abuse was an issue for him. More common causes for people who suffer this condition include:

  • Injury or sudden trauma
  • Repetitive stress
  • Metabolic and endocrine disorders including Diabetes
  • Small vessel disease
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Kidney disorders
  • Cancers
  • Neuromas
  • Infections

Clapton has written and performed countless hits in a career spanning five decades, such as Layla, Tears in Heaven, and Sunshine of Your Love. According to the classical music magazine, Scena, peripheral neuropathy accounts for one in five diagnoses among musicians.

As people age, many people suffer from peripheral neuropathy, which affects their lifestyle. The cost of care will often impact a person's retirement savings since most long-term care costs are not paid for by health insurance or Medicare. 

Health and Aging Problems Will Complicate Retirement

This means the financial costs and burdens of aging should be considered when planning for your future retirement. Unless a person has Long-Term Care Insurance, they will rely on either family caregivers or their savings to pay for caregivers. 

If a person has little or no assets or spends down their assets Medicaid will pay for care.

As aging rock stars and their boomer fans age, they will together face these health issues, which can cause physical, emotional, and financial burdens on loved ones.

Unlike most of these stars, most people don't have multi-million dollar estates. These stars could self-insure; however, many wealthy people understand that it is more prudent and efficient to look at Long-Term Care Insurance options. 

Long-Term Care is Both a Cash Flow Issue and Family Issue

The rest of us need to plan for the financial costs and burdens of aging. The fact is long-term care services are expensive and adversely impact income, assets, lifestyle, and legacy. 

Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance provides guaranteed tax-free benefits giving you access to your choice of quality care either at home or in a facility. When you need extended care, you will have these tax-free resources to maintain your independence, maintain the choice of care, and reduce the stress otherwise placed on your family.

Without an advance plan, you will pay for care with your own savings, or your family will become caregivers. In some situations, it could be both. 

Keep in mind Long-Term Care Insurance is medically underwritten. Since there are underwriting standards, you can't wait until you have major health issues to get coverage.

Plan before retirement, ideally in your 40s or 50s. 

About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

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LTC News Contributor James Kelly
James Kelly

Contributor Since
August 21st, 2017

LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

About the Author

LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

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