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Published: Sep 29th, 2016

Eric Clapton: Peripheral Neuropathy May End Career and More

Eric Clapton Career May End, Peripheral Neuropathy
Article Updated:January 23rd, 2020

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.) 

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 experience of touch. 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.”

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 have a lack of muscle control and dexterity, which can affect one’s ability to do normal every tasks and activities of daily living. Many times 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.

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




In a career spanning five decades, Clapton has written and performed countless hits, 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 are impacted by peripheral neuropathy, which affects their lifestyle. Many times the cost of care will affect a person's 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. 

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

Affordable Long-Term Care Insurance provides benefits, so when you need extended care, you will have the tax-free resources for your choice of quality care either in your own home or in a quality facility. 

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.