Crash Test Dummies' bi-national tour cancelled due to back pain, herniated disc

Sep 19 2011
Winnipeg-based rock group Crash Test Dummies had to cancel their fall tour of Canada and the U.S. because lead singer Brad Roberts is experiencing back pain caused by a herniated disc.

Roberts, whose band is famous for their 1993 single "Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm," had a history of back problems that forced him to stop playing guitar on recent tours, according to the band's blog. "As much as I love performing, just thinking about the many long drives I would have been facing this fall has had me seriously worried," he wrote on the blog, saying that the tour was cancelled on the advice of his doctors.

The spinal cord is protected by 26 bones called the vertebrae. In between the vertebrae are gel-like cushions called discs. A herniated disc occurs when one of these structures bulges out or ruptures, which can happen because of injury. The herniation can cause pain, sciatica and other symptoms in different parts of the body, depending on its location. If it occurs higher in the spine, the herniated disc can cause pain in the shoulders or arms, and if the lumbar region is affected, pain may be felt in the buttocks and legs, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Other sensations may include numbness, tingling, weakness or spasms.

Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids are the first line of treatment. If further remedies are required, surgeons can remove part or all of the affected disc, as well as any adjacent bones as needed, through procedures known as discectomy and laminectomy, respectively. These procedures are often followed by spinal fusion, which melds together the two vertebrae on either side of an excised disc with the use of bone grafts or special proteins. Other surgical options include prosthetic disc replacement.

Disc herniations can be prevented with the help of proper lifting techniques and maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise, the NIH said.