Michael Jackson, Prince, and Tom Petty walk into a bar….

Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009. Prince was found dead on April 21, 2016. Tom Petty died on October 2, 2017.

Though all very different personalities, they had one common note. Their causes of death were related to dependency on pain medication, ultimately for back pain.

Although Michael Jackson’s problems are reported to have started after he was severely burned while filming the infamous Pepsi commercial, his pain later in life was related to low back pain caused by a fall on stage. Or off the stage as it were. At his time of death, his house was filled with painkillers like oxycontin, demerol and diprivan. According to testimony given by friends and former doctors, Michael Jackson was severely addicted to pain killers and other forms of anesthesia. What is not well, or publicly documented is what he tried for his back that didn’t involve medications. Perhaps it was too late, and he was so addicted to the pain meds from his 3rd degree burns, that natural methods for back pain were out of the question for him. It’s sad to think he may have had other options.

Prince also suffered from severe back pain and hip pain related to performing. Addicted to opioids, he had turned to street drugs when his prescriptions were pulled back. Unfortunately, once opioids and other extremely powerful pain pills are introduced to a patient, it is very difficult to come off them. This is why, even with performers who feel the need to hurry up and get back on stage, the use of drug free methods that restore normal function to the spine and nervous system, is a critical first choice, before drugs and surgery.

When Tom Petty died, it was the same story. Back pain, pain pills, overdose. Fentanyl, an extremely potent synthetic opioid 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin, was found in his system during his autopsy. According to an article in Rolling Stone Magazine, two other more potent derivatives of Fentanyl were also found in his body. The following is an excerpt from David Browne’s article in Rolling Stone:
Opioids have gripped the music business for decades – codeine and Percodan were among the drugs found in Elvis Presley’s body when he died in 1977. But fentanyl’s rise in music may be rooted in deeper trends. Artists are touring more than ever before. “The stress of the road is very difficult, but that’s where the money is,” says Harold Owens, senior director of MusiCares, the Recording Academy’s charitable assistance program. “So they go on these long tours, and physically it’s horrible. They’re not eating right or taking care of themselves.” (SOURCE: Rolling Stone)

As musicians like Michael Jackson, Bonnie Raitt, or you, rack up hours, months, and years of playing and touring, it takes its toll on their bodies. It is often an accumulation of years worth of stressors, less commonly a bad fall off of a stage, like that of Dave Grohl, when he broke his leg and returned to the stage to finish the show. For the musician in the know, this accumulation of mounting stressors that lead to physical and mental breakdown can be managed along the way. Just like practicing an instrument, your body needs practice to be able to handle “the show of life.” In short, “Small and steady wins the race.” Small amounts of consistent care for the body that is needed for performing, slows the aging process, and should make life easier later on down the road. It takes foresight though, the type that you get from listening to those in music who older than you. Drugs do not make your body stronger for performing. Better structure and function do. Not experiencing and listening to the pain that represents a problem, often leads to further damage. Hear your body screaming for help, and seek help f from the only doctor that focuses exclusively on the drug free, surgery free care of spine and nervous system.

The Chiropractor.

Dr. Lou Jacobs, chiropractor in Portland, Maine, has been specializing in the health and performance of musicians for over 20 years. Between chiropractic, acupuncture and a host of other techniques, relief and rebuilding are possible without the use of drugs and surgery.