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Celebrities Who Suffer With Chronic Pain

It’s not an easy life being a celebrity.  Not only do they have impossibly busy schedules but they also have to deal with constant tabloid scrutiny. However, for many stars, chronic pain can present an additional burden. And like the rest of us, even celebrities don’t always know when it’s time to get treatment for serious pain. They often don’t get help right away, they try and tough it out, and see medication as a sign of weakness.

But if celebrities deal with their pain, they will not only be helping themselves. Celebrities who come forward with their stories of chronic pain — and how they overcame their conditions — may serve as sources of inspiration for many of their fans who may also experience chronic pain of their own.

Here are some examples of celebrities who have battled with — and in some cases, continue to battle with — chronic pain.

Tobey Maguire
Famous for playing Spiderman, he has suffered from back pain and related problems for several years.  Maguire said his condition was probably worsened by the horse riding required by his role in the Academy Award-nominated “Seabiscuit,” during the previous year.
Although Maguire disclosed his medical condition to filmmakers, many actors may avoid doing so, even if it means performing dangerous stunts, rather than losing a top role because of chronic pain. Performing their own stunts gives actors credibility with an audience. But ultimately, if they are not properly trained, they may put themselves at greater risk for injury.

Paula Abdul
A former judge on “American Idol” and singer, Paula Abdul has suffered from severe chronic pain for over two decades. Her condition was caused by a cheerleading injury in high school. It was further aggravated by her involvement in a number of car accidents as well as a plane crash. Abdul was eventually diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

Melanie Griffith
The Oscar-nominated actress was involved in a car accident in her 20’s, which left her with chronic neck and back pain. The lingering pain caused her to get addicted to pain relief medications, further complicating her situation.

George Clooney
Clooney suffered a serious head injury while shooting the movie Syriana in 2005. Following the injury, he suffered severe chronic pain from damage to his dura, a wrap around the spine which holds in spinal fluid.

Despite the agony he was in, Clooney ruled out taking painkillers because there’s a history of addiction in his family, but the pain got so great, that he considered suicide. Clooney’s complaints were dismissed until spinal fluid started leaking from his nose. He has since had numerous operations.

Bo Derek
She is better known for her appearance in the movie “10” but few people know of her back pains, which were aggravated by years of horseback riding – and which eventually led to a painful herniated disc.

In 2002, she together with a number of other celebrities who have battled pain, spoke out about her experiences at a New York event sponsored by Partners Against Pain, an organisation that brings together patients, caregivers and health-care providers, with the goal of advancing standards of pain care, through education and advocacy.

During the event, Derek discussed the importance of celebrities, and others in the public eye, sharing information about their pain.

Pain experts say that Derek’s advocacy could serve as an inspiring role model for others who suffer from chronic pain.

“It legitimises the condition, and it provides a role model of someone who is successful,” Kaniecki noted. “Perhaps because they’re more interesting, it’s more effective.”

If you know of other celebrities with chronic pain conditions, please let us know 

We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. Furthermore, we do not endorse any medical advice provided, and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider.

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