Joining the judging panel for series 12 of Dancing On Ice (and replacing Jason Gardiner), John Barrowman has made a remarkable recover just in time for the Sunday evening viewing – and it seems as though John has his brother-in-law to thank. “Fortunately, my brother-in-law is one of the top neurosurgeons in the UK, and he and one of his friends decided to do an injection into the vertebrae and then to put steroids in there to alleviate the stress and the pain, and to reduce the swelling in the facet joint,” he said.
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The Glaswegian, 52, had caused an injury to his C5-C6 spinal motion segment, which provides flexibility and support to much of the neck and the head above.
He told ITV’s This Morning: “I was doing a TV appearance… and they asked me to come on and do this dance move, which I did, and my brain thought I was 20 years old again, and I did some kind of a drop.
“And when I fell down on the ground I ruptured my C5 and C6 vertebrae, which then ruptured the facet joint.”
“So it caused a severe amount of pain, to the point that when I was in rehearsals it started getting worse and worse… I literally was on my knees in agony.”
“I couldn’t sing because I couldn’t extend my jaw to sing, and the pain was so bad. I was literally on my knees in tears and had to be taken to the hospital to have it all checked out.”
He added: “It was kind of frightening and I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
“And, at one point, my husband Scott was trying to make a little bit of a joke of it, to make me feel better, and I just looked at him and I said, ‘It’s not funny, I’m really really scared. I don’t know what’s happening.’”
Treatment of the C5-C6 spinal motion segment typically begins with non-surgical methods.
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Both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications are used to help relieve C5-C6 vertebral and nerve pain, advised spinal health experts Spine Health. Common medications include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), pain-relieving medication such as opioids and tramadol, and/or corticosteroids. Some doctors may also prescribe calcium and vitamin D supplements for bone strengthening.
A brace helps immobilise and protect the neck during the initial week or two of an acute injury to the C5-C6 vertebral levels, such as a fracture. Immobilisation may help promote healing of the vertebrae and surrounding soft tissues such as ligaments and blood vessels.
Manual therapy in combination with therapeutic exercise may help improve neck function, decrease pain, and increase the range of motion of the C5-C6 level. This treatment also helps improve head and neck balance.
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Injecting steroids into the epidural space, neuroforamen, or in the facet joints may be recommended for the treatment of radicular pain from herniated discs and whiplash injury.
Following self-care measures may help prevent spinal nerve pain from starting or getting worse. It’s best to avoid:
- Repeated bending of the neck forward and/or backward.
- Sudden, abrupt, and/or jerking movements to the neck.
- High-intensity exercise and heavy weight lifting.
It’s also advisable to maintain good posture by sitting tall with the shoulders back and without protruding the head forward in order to avoid stress on the C5-C6 vertebral level.
If non-surgical treatments doesn’t improve neck pain – or the health of a nerve root or the spinal cord worsens – surgery may be considered.
Surgery is more likely to be recommended for those who have persistent pain and neurological and/or muscular deficits, preventing the ability to function in everyday life.
There are different types of surgery available, but the surgeon’s decision may be based on the extent and location of the damage, as well as how many vertebral levels are involved.
Sometimes, more than one surgery type may be combined.
Luckily for John, his brother-in-law, Steven Gill, was on hand to administer swift medical advice and treatment, meaning Dancing On Ice fans get to watch John work his magic. But not on the dance floor, this time.
Dancing On Ice begins on Sunday 5th January, on ITV at 6pm.
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