They may be some of the best athletes in the world — but that doesn’t make them immune to the same back problems and spinal conditions that affect the rest of us.
Rafael Nadal, currently ranked as the third-best male tennis player in the world, suffers from chronic back pain after injuring his back during the Australian Open — and, according to the International Business Times, his back problems have kept him from playing to his full potential this season.
In the world of hockey, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nathan Horton’s career is all but over after a degenerative back injury left him unable to stand or walk. He now faces the choice of waiting for his back to heal itself before returning to the rink, or undergoing a surgical procedure that would leave him unable to play professional sports ever again,Lighthouse Hockey reports.
Many pro athletes are able to seek out chiropractic therapy for their back ailments — in fact, back pain is what brings 35% of all patients to chiropractic therapy. But this isn’t the case for Nadal or Horton, whose conditions are too serious to be healed by a chiropractor.
According to the International Business Times, Nadal has turned to stem cell treatment for his back problems. Stem cell treatments, while not yet scientifically proven to work, are being used by some athletes to help repair damaged tissue and bone in the body.
For Horton, who at 29 has played on a Stanley Cup-winning team in 2011 and has a contract with the Blue Jackets worth $37 million, the decision to undergo a surgery that would repair his back, but end his career, seems impossible. He has yet to choose whether or not he will undergo the surgery, according to Lighthouse Hockey.
Regardless of the results for Nadal and Horton’s respective treatments, one thing is clear — failing to care for one’s spinal health can produce disastrous effects, especially when one’s entire career relies on a healthy, pain-free body.