Celebrities experience back pain, too

Aug 24 2011
Sedentary office workers are often advised to take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch, and to get regular exercise, if they want to avoid back pain.

However, ordinary Americans may take some consolation from the fact that even celebrities who have access to the best personal trainers, massages and upscale gyms also experience back complications, and even serious conditions such as slipped discs.

In fact, this is what appears to have happened to Victoria Beckham, a.k.a Posh Spice, who gave birth last month to a daughter. The erstwhile singer and model is known to be a devotee of high heels, and her own fashion line includes 6-inch Laboutins and 5-inch Giambattista Vallis.

The fashionista was even photographed in towering heels at the April wedding of Prince William, which she attended while six months pregnant. According to media reports, Beckham's friends confessed that the slipped disc may have been precipitated by her wearing high heels during pregnancy.

Slipped disc is also known as herniated disc, and it occurs when the jelly-like substance that cushions the vertebrae moves out of place or ruptures and its contents spill out. This typically puts significant pressure on surrounding nerves and muscles and may cause excruciating pain, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The agency reports that the pain may spread to legs or shoulders and upper arms, depending on whether the herniation affects the lumbar or cervical spine. Other symptoms of the condition include tingling or numbness in the extremities, or muscle spasm and weakness.

There is a host of methods to treat this condition, and doctors typically recommend starting with conservative treatments, such as rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy or epidural steroid injections. While these do not cure herniation as such, they may reduce inflammation and lessen or eliminate the pain. However, if these approaches fail to bring significant or long-term relief, some patients may have to undergo a surgical procedure to improve their condition.

Excess weight can also cause or exacerbate slipped disc, so overweight individuals are advised to shed pounds to help avoid this type of complication. Fortunately, the famously petite Posh Spice does not need to worry about that, although her experience may provide a cautionary tale to heel-lovers of all shapes and sizes.

According to medical experts, regular wearing of high or uncomfortable heels may cause foot deformities such as bunions, which Victoria Beckham is also known to have. Moreover, doctors say that wearing such shoes while expecting can be risky because pregnancy already puts a strain on the spine, which heels only exacerbate.

On a bright note, medical treatments Beckham is receiving appear to be working, as insiders say that "she's definitely on the mend [and] it's just a slow process - no walking, no bending or picking up heavy objects. She also has to have lots of rest," quoted by UK's Daily Mail.

In the U.S., back pain is believed to affect up to 80 percent of people some time during their lives.