Oscar Nominee George Clooney’s Fight with Chronic Pain

Oscar Nominee George Clooney’s Fight with Chronic Pain

George Clooney thought of “ending it all” because of chronic back pain.

It’s a scene that may help George Clooney win an Academy Award. It’s also ironic, given the actor’s struggles with chronic pain.

“Goodbye my love, my pain,” Clooney’s character says in “The Descendents” as he prepares to tell doctors to turn off the life support machine that keeps his brain dead wife alive.

If Clooney wins the Oscar for Best Actor, “The Descendents” will have given the handsome actor the role of his career. But it’s a movie Clooney would have never made if he gave in to darker impulses while he was fighting chronic pain.

The Oscar nominee thought of suicide and “ending it all” because of chronic pain from a back injury he suffered while filming “Syriana” in 2005. The 50-year old actor hit his head on the floor during a violent scene and tore the dura around his spine that holds in spinal fluid. Even after surgery reinforced his spine with bolts, Clooney says the injury has never completely healed.

Clooney’s struggle with chronic pain and his ability to rise above it is a testament to not letting pain limit you or take you from your daily activities. Here are six more celebrities with chronic pain conditions:

Jennifer Grey

Jennifer Grey won the “Dancing with the Stars” competition despite having a ruptured disc in her back. Photo by Luigi Novi.

The “Dirty Dancing” star and “Dancing with the Stars” champion has neck pain stemming from a 1987 car accident. Grey had a plate inserted to help prevent any further damage to her neck. While competing on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2010 she ruptured a disc in her back. “Words can’t express how much pain I was in,” says Grey. But she stayed in the competition and eventually won the Mirror Ball trophy.

Grey is now an advocate for pain management and a spokesperson for Partners Against Pain. “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional,” says Grey. “You don’t have to be a victim.”

Jillian Michaels

The former trainer for “The Biggest Loser” suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis. Michaels kept her abdominal pain hidden for years because she feared it would ruin her health-related career. Today, she controls her pain through exercise and a healthy diet.

Kathleen Turner

The actress who starred in “Body Heat” and “War of the Roses” suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. Turner abused alcohol to control her pain after she was diagnosed in 1992. Then she sobered up and became an advocate for the Arthritis Foundation. “It is important to me that people know they have options so they can get some relief from this debilitating disease,” she has said. Turner believes early treatment is the key to managing the disease.

                                                                                                        Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul still has back pain from a cheerleading accident she suffered as a teenager. Photo by Alison Martin.

The former “American Idol” and current “X Factor” judge has back pain due to a cheerleading accident she had at the age of 17. She also has chronic pain from injuries suffered in a 1987 car accident and a 1993 plane crash. These events may have contributed to her 2005 diagnosis of reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that causes chronic pain.

Frank Fritz

One of the stars of “American Pickers” on the History Channel, Fritz has suffered from Crohn’s Disease for over 25 years. A painful intestinal disorder, Crohn’s is a form of inflammatory bowel disease.

Sinead O’Connor

The Irish singer stopped performing in 2003, in part because she suffers from fibromyalgia. She returned to singing two years later. “Fibromyalgia is not curable,” said O’Connor. “But it’s manageable. You get to know your patterns and limits, so you can work and plan around it

Authored by: Tina Samuels