Sum 41 singer performing with slipped disc, against doctor’s advice- something doesn’t add up!

Last week Sum 41 lead singer and guitarist Deryck Whibley was attacked by 3 men at a bar in Toyko where the band was scheduled to perform. Whibley, 30, was hospitalized and diagnosed with a “slipped disc. ” According the band’s Twitter page:

“After an MRI scan, it appears Deryck has slipped a disc in his back once again. Despite doctor’s instructions, he has decided to play today’s show at Summersonic regardless.”

The group posted a video on YouTube showing Deryck examined by doctors, then performing for a large crowd.

The popular expression “slipped disc” goes by the medical term herniated disc.

The spine is made up of 24 bones called vertebrae, stacked on top of each other as well as the sacrum and coccyx (which are fused vertebrae at the base of the spine). Between the vertebrae are cushions made of cartilage, called the intervertebral discs, which keep the spine flexible and act as shock absorbers. Strong fibrous tissue, called ligaments and bony protrusions of the vertebrae called facets help stabilize the spine. There is an oval shaped space, called the spinal canal, through which the nerves pass from the brain down the spine. The spinal nerves then pass through a second space, between the vertebrae on each side of the spine, out to the rest of the body.


The intervertebral discs consist of a thick outer layer of cartilage, the annulus, which surrounds a jelly-like center called the nucleus. A disc is called herniated when the nucleus seeps out and pushes on the nerves coming out of the space between the vertebrae. Although a herniated or ruptured disc can occur by a single severe trauma, more commonly it occurs as discs get worn over time, causing them to become less springy, and flatter, and to develop small cracks.

The most common symptoms of lumbar disc herniation is sciatica—a sharp, often shooting pain that extends from the buttocks down the back of one leg, caused by pressure on the spinal nerve. Other symptoms include numbness and tingling, or weakness in one leg. Loss of bowel and bladder control can also occur. Patients may be treated with symptomatic therapy (pain medications, physical therapy) for a prolonged period of time. However, if symptoms are severe or unresponsive to those treatments, surgical intervention maybe appropriate. There are a variety of surgical options including removal of a small part of the disc and nearby spine (microdiscectomy- the most common surgery for the condition), replacement of the disc, fusion of the spinal bones, and newer techniques such as Intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDEE) which involves the use of heat to modify the collagen fibers of the disc and destroy the pain receptors in the area.

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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