On Thursday morning, for the first time, John Elway publicly described his longtime struggle with a hand disorder that prevented him from being able to grasp a football.
According to Facts on Hand, a leading organization on the condition, Dupuytren’s contracture happens when collagen builds up in the hand beneath the surface of the skin, forming a rope-like cord on the palm. It’s often mistaken as arthritis.
“For me, not to be able to pick up a football — that was an emergency,” Elway said in the interview.
At that time, only surgical options were available and he wasn’t interested in those after undergoing so many surgeries from playing football, he said in the interview. But a couple years ago, he learned about a non-surgical treatment, and that has been “great” for him, he said.
Dupuytren’s contracture typically effects more men than women and symptoms usually start in people older than 40. About 16 million people are affected by this condition, according to Facts on Hand.
While the condition may reappear after treatment, patients can opt to have the non-surgical treatment again to fix it.
Symptoms include nodules or lumps on the palm, dimpling of the skin (called pitting) and cords or inflexible bands under the skin extending from the fingers to the palm, according to Facts on Hand. Research has not yet identified what causes the condition.
Elway has joined the Facts on Hand campaign to spread the word about the new, non-surgical treatment.