George Clooney: Back Injury Recovery & How Your Pain Treatment Matters

7 minute read

Hollywood is all lights, camera, and action. No matter how much stars crave the attention, working in the entertainment industry can take its toll.

Nobody knows that better than George Clooney. The world’s most eligible bachelor for years, Clooney had his pick of roles and was living the proverbial dream. That was until an on-set accident caused a serious back injury that plunged his bright world into darkness.

Even Stars Lose Their Shine

Actors like Clooney are all too aware of the risks you accept when you sign on for a movie. The roles they take on require intense preparation, hard work, and dedication.

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Action films in particular come with the added strain of stunt work and the risks for potential harm and injury. Even if you have a stunt double, the sets are so lively and full of chaos that one wrong step can be dangerous to anyone.

On the set of Syriana, Clooney severely injured his spine attempting a stunt. The mishap left him with a cracked head and damaged spine, causing him to be hospitalized for weeks.

Epidural block procedure

For a movie star that is used to jet-setting and going from set to set, this new bedridden lifestyle was unnatural and depressing for him. He admitted on more than one occasion that there were even times he contemplated suicide.

Clooney’s spine was leaking fluid, which would require surgery. He experienced stroke-like headaches and ongoing pain. Doctors prescribed strong medications to help him through the lengthy line of surgery sessions.

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Side effects from the medications combined with anxiety and pain made his thoughts of suicide only more tempting. Thankfully, the surgery was a success, and Clooney continues to grace our screens regularly.

Living With Back Pain

Like Clooney, many Americans suffer serious back pain, and it does not always have an easy fix like ibuprofen. Clooney to this day still admits that his back gets a lingering pain from time to time that limits his stunt abilities and daily activities.

Back pain is a common ailment to many more people than just action stars. Injuries, arthritis, strained muscles, pulled ligaments, ruptured discs, and osteoporosis are common causes of everyday back pain.

Whether you had an injury and subsequent surgery or not, back pain can seriously dampen your quality of life. Pain medications are the go-to solution, but, as many people can relate, these do not always take the edge off the pain.

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The problem is that medications come with side effects, and this can make you feel even worse, as George found out first hand.

Older woman helping her husband

Thankfully there are some natural treatments you can try to help ease your back pain. More serious back pain may require surgery, but these helpful options come in handy when recovering after surgery too.


Getting a regular massage from a CMT (certified massage therapist) helps to promote circulation, ease stress, relax your muscles, and release endorphins.

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Endorphins are your body’s natural pain relievers by interacting with the opiate receptors in your brain. They create the same effects as morphine and other opiate drugs except without the addiction. Higher concentrations of endorphins can help to relieve the most excruciating back pains.

Natural Alternatives

A growing amount of research has begun connecting certain compounds with lowered pain and inflammation. Curcumin, which is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, boswellia serrata, and collagen, can help reduce pain while increasing mobility.

Taking a supplement containing these ingredients in a manner designed to help with joint pain can lead to real improvement in quality of life.

Ground turmeric in a bowl

Sleep Position

If back pain keeps you up at night, or is worse after sleeping, consider changing your sleep position.

Sleeping in a reclined position helps to relieve strain from your lower back. If you have had a serious back injury, it may be helpful to get an adjustable bed or wedge.

Water Therapy

A hot bath helps to relax aching or injured muscles. It can also promote light stretching, which will help get your back in shape again after an injury.

Swimming is another water option because the buoyancy of water helps to hold your weight. The water does not have to be cold as there are numerous hydrotherapy centers across the country designed to help with pain relief. Exercising in warm water allows your body to heal without the strain of your weight. Hydrotherapy has long been proven to help bodies to heal from many types of injuries.

Getting Help in the Morning

Sometimes back pain can be worse in the morning, which can interfere with your whole approach to the day. Before you get out of bed, place a heating pad under the most painful area of your back and let it warm up.

The warmth will soothe pain, relax muscles, and ease stiffness, so you can get up and face the day with energy. In fact, thermotherapy has long been used as successful treatment for serious pain caused by injury.

Woman enjoying massage

The Bottom Line

Finding effective pain relief is a process of trial and error because everybody experiences pain differently. It is definitely worth exploring the options to discover what could work for you.

Often an alternative approach can work wonders and medications can be reduced and even discarded.

As we learned from Clooney’s story, serious injuries and pain can affect your mental health. So, if you find a relief solution, share it with others and support those who are in pain just like you.

Back pain is serious and can alter your moods, so it is important to stay in touch with your doctor and social circle. Trying the natural alternatives to medication can ease your pain but your mental health will need outside support.

A back injury or back pain doesn’t have to ruin your physical and mental health. Show your back some love, and get right back to doing what you love.

George Clooney says if he can do it, anyone can. And you should listen—after all he was an ER doctor for 5 seasons.

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