Grayson Perry health: Star, 61, on his ‘terrible’ health problems – ‘that was a killer’

NHS explain the best ways to treat back pain

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As well as being known as an artist, Perry has curated exhibitions, published two autobiographies and an illustrated graphic novel. Back in 2008, the star was ranked in the Daily Telegraph’s list of the “100 most powerful people in British culture”. Due to his influence in British culture, Perry and his wife set themselves a mission to unite the nation through art while the Covid pandemic ran rife. The show ran for two seasons, the second which was broadcast during England’s third national lockdown, a time which Perry also found extremely tough.

Speaking to the Radio Times back in May 2021, Perry said: “This lockdown is awful.

“When an interview with Radio Times is the highlight of your social day, you know?

“It’s not even bin day. Bin day is great! If you time it right, you can have some social interaction.”

In addition to the struggles of lockdown and isolation, Perry also opened up about several health issues he had suffered in the past year.

The star continued to say: “I had a lot of health problems. I spent a lot of the year being very uncomfortable.

“It wasn’t anything to do with Covid; it was to do with my waterworks, then terrible back problems.”

The 61-year-old’s health problems became so severe that the first episode of Art Club was postponed.

In a tweet back in April 2020, Perry wrote: “I’ve been ill, not with Covid 19, so the first ep of Grayson’s Art Club has been postponed till 8pm Monday 27th April. Keep sending in your brilliant artworks.”

Luckily, after suffering with multiple ailments, Perry was able to have surgery which reignited one of his beloved lockdown hobbies.

“I had to have an operation and that was a real bind, because my one salvation during most of the first part of lockdown was exercise,” he added.

“I’ve never been so bl***y fit! I went out on my mountain bike every other day and I was really cracking on.

“Then suddenly not being able to walk to the shop, that was a killer. I’ve just started biking again.

“It’s the longest I’ve been off a bike for years. It’s made me grateful not, at this present moment, to be in pain.”

Although not going into any further detail about his health problems, the star admitted that he has taken on less work in order to give himself time to rest.

Although relatively common, the NHS explains that back pain can last for a long time and can keep recurring. While there are many causes of back pain, the most common types of back injuries include:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Herniated or bulging disc
  • Fractured vertebra.

Sprains and straining can happen both suddenly and gradually over time often from twisting or pulling a muscle. St Elizabeth Healthcare explains that symptoms of sprains or strains are generally similar and include:

  • A pop at the time of the injury
  • Muscle spasms or cramps
  • Difficulty bending, walking or standing up straight
  • Pain that increases with certain movements.

Herniated or bulging discs occur when there is a problem with the rubber-like discs between the vertebrae. A disc has a softer center inside a tougher exterior and when herniated, a disc’s softer inside pushes through a tear in the disc’s exterior, causing nearby nerves to become irritated. This can create painful symptoms, such as:

  • Arm or leg pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Muscle weakness.

A fractured vertebra – also called a compression fracture – refers to a crack or gap in the vertebra. It is often a result of the spine ageing and weakening, but can also be caused by trauma to the spine or from a fall. Symptoms of a fractured vertebra include:

  • Acute or chronic back pain
  • Lost height
  • Hunched posture.

The NHS recommends that individuals with back pain stay as active as possible, even trying exercises such as swimming or taking painkillers if the pain becomes too unbearable. Hot or cold compresses can also be used to relieve back pain in the short-term.

For more severe back injuries, medical professionals will be able to provide medication or physical therapy. Treatment for a fractured vertebra can also involve surgery or wearing a back brace to help speed-up the recovery process.

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