LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — One of Prince’s close friends said the singer lived in constant pain and may have taken painkillers to cope.
The musician liked to jump, spin and do splits on stage while wearing high heels during his concerts. His fiercely competitive and uncompromising performance may have taken a toll on the 57-year-old’s body.
Close friend, Sheila E., told Entertainment Tonight that “he was in pain all the time, but he was a performer.”
“I mean, you think about all the years he was jumping off those risers. They were not low. They were very, very high. To jump off that, first of all, the “Purple Rain” tour and the way that they were stacked, he had those heels on,” she recalled. “We did a year of touring [and] for him to jump off of that. Just an entire year would have messed up his knees.”
There have been reports that Prince might have taken Percocet to deal with a hip injury.
Daniel Arkfeld is an expert on muscular pain at USC’s Keck School of Medicine.
He said performers like Prince will often let adrenaline take their bodies to heights they were never meant to reach only to pay later. “Afterward, you suffer severe pain, you have to really take a step back.”
The physician said the human muscular-skeletal system was made to last 50 years. But people are now living well into their 90s.
Unlike athletes, whose careers seldom take them into their 40s, artists like Prince keep on pushing, pounding and forcing their bodies into athletic performances far longer than their frames were built to tolerate.
Arkfeld advised the best way to deal with pain is not with pills, but rather with a targeted approach using a team of doctors, who can help retrain the brain with biofeedback plus new occupational and physical therapies.
“We’re finding it’s not just a matter of giving people pain pills, working much more on the depression of pain, on central pain,” Arkfeld added.
Reports that Prince may have used powerful painkillers have not been confirmed, pending the results of toxicology tests.