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NFL legend John Elway has opened up for the first time about a debilitating disorder that left him unable to hold a football.
Elway - the two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback of the Denver Broncos - spoke to TODAY about his battle with Dupuytren's contracture - a hand deformity that causes tissue to knot under the skin of the palm.
Broncos - Manager - Years - End - Season
The current Broncos general manager was diagnosed in 2004, six years after he retired at the end of the 1998 season.
As the condition worsened over time, both of his ring fingers were pulled into a bent position, unable to straighten.
Elway - Sports - Analysts - Quarterbacks - Time
Elway, whom sports analysts often hail as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, said he wants to encourage others to be proactive about their health and if they feel something is off in their hands to go see a specialist.
'I couldn't pick up a football,' Elway told TODAY. 'For me, not to be able to pick up a football, that was an emergency.'
Dupuytren - Contracture - Tissue - Skin - Palm
Dupuytren's contracture is when the tissue beneath the skin of the palm thickens, causing nodules, cords, and contractures to develop.
In some cases, the cords can tighten and cause the fingers, generally the ring finger and the pinky, to bend in towards the palm.
Scientists - Unsure - Dupuytren - Evidence - Hand
Scientists are unsure of what causes Dupuytren's, but there is no evidence that hand injuries or specific occupations increases the risk.
Because it often occurs in older men of Northern European descent, the disorder is also known as 'Viking Disease'.
The condition may affect...
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