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Famous People Get Back Pain Too

If back pain had been a Founding Father, it might have written this line in the Declaration of Independence: “all men are created equal” (women too, of course). Back pain is very even-handed and does not play favorites. It can attack anyone with no holds barred: rich, poor, young, old, every ethnic group and geographic location. Because it can affect anyone, it is a great equalizer.

If you suffer from back pain, you are in the company of some very famous celebrities and athletes. Here are just a few, along with the various causes of their pain (and what they did about it).

  • Harrison Ford (actor) suffered a herniated disc while filming one of the Indiana Jones films. He had to return to Los Angeles for major surgery to correct the disc. However, a later accident on the set of Star Wars: Episode VII sent him for several months of rehab.
  • Usain Bolt (athlete) is considered the greatest sprinter of all time. However, he was born with an abnormal curvature of the spine called scoliosis. Scoliosis is usually diagnosed during childhood or early adolescence; if not extreme, most people go through life practically unaware that they have it. However, for someone who is aiming to dominate the world of running, the unusual curvature can make sprinting less efficient and increase the risk of back, hip, and even leg injuries. In Bolt’s case, a hamstring injury indirectly connected to his spinal problem kept him back during the 2010 season. What does Bolt do for his back? He uses a chiropractor, physical therapy, and strengthening exercises for his back and core so he conquers back pain just as he conquers track events.
  • President George W. Bush (politician) had a chronic disc problem in his spine. Four years after he left the Oval Office, he underwent surgery to correct the source of his pain, and aside from sneaking in a golf game or two, was a “good patient” during his recovery.
  • Mick Mars (musician) did not let his back pain keep him from performing as lead guitarist of the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe. At age 17, he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a rare form of arthritis that inflames the joints of the spine, particularly the facet joints along the spinal column and the sacroiliac joint at the base of the spine. Over time, it can cause bony growths that literally fuse the backbone’s vertebrae together, creating rigidity. For Mars, the pain was agonizing, and in 2004 he had surgery to replace the hip joints where he was experiencing the greatest pain.

Facet joint pain

Mick Mars’ chronic facet joint pain was just one part of the back pain he suffered. Most people who have facet joint pain do not have ankylosing spondylitis. Instead, other factors (normal wear and tear, obesity, certain jobs that involve heavy lifting, and even sports like tennis for young competitors) can lead to the cartilage damage that results in compression on nerves and bone spurs. Fortunately, early diagnosis and compliance with interventions such as postural improvement, physical therapy, heat or cold applications, and use of anti-inflammatories generally help manage the pain. If these measures become ineffective, and pain increases, the Sperling Medical Group offers MR-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS), a noninvasive outpatient procedure that can bring durable pain relief for most patients.

To learn more, contact the Sperling Medical Group. And remember, you are not alone. Even celebrities get the Back Pain Blues – and with the right medical help, go on to enjoy continued quality of life.

Facet Pain