George Clooney on Battle with Pain and Spinal Surgery
We know better: celebrities are regular human beings, just like us. But when that celebrity is George Clooney…well, ’regular human’ seems understated. So when Clooney recently shared his ordeal with spinal surgery in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, it was humbling to realize that when it comes to back pain and treatments, it doesn’t matter if you are a movie star or a mere mortal. From over-the-counter medication to open back surgery, the treatment choices we all face are the same.
While performing his own stunts during the filming of Syriana in 2004, George Clooney suffered a severe spine injury, which caused a tear in the dura mater, the sheath encasing protective cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) around the nerves of the spinal cord and brain. The resulting CSF leak caused debilitating headaches, which at one point led him to contemplate taking his own life to escape the agony. He received an injection of his own blood into to the leak location, so that a clot would form to stop the flow. While Clooney didn’t undergo open back surgery, the spinal procedures he endured were nonetheless difficult.
Following his foray into spinal surgery, Clooney continued to suffer with pain. To cope during the arduous recovery process, he tried painkillers and even drinking. However, he didn’t like the side effects from taking the narcotics, and was determined to get off medication due to a family history of addiction. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Clooney said, “I went to a pain-management guy whose idea was, ‘You can’t mourn for how you used to feel, because you’re never going to feel that way again’.” He is at the point where his pain is finally at a manageable level.
Whether you are a celebrity with limitless access and resources to the best medical treatments, or a ‘regular human’, finding the right solution to back pain is a challenging process. When a celebrity opens up and shares a personal struggle with us, it can certainly offers the inspiration we need to continue learning about available treatment options, from the most conservative therapeutic and pharmacalogical treatments, to laser spinal surgery and open back surgery.
It may be reassuring to know that you are not alone in the overwhelming effort to find the appropriate treatment.