Warriors Coach in ‘Excruciating' Back Pain

By Pat Anson, Editor

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is in “excruciating pain” and may miss the rest of his team’s first round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers after his chronic back pain "took a turn for the worse." Kerr warned other back pain sufferers "to stay away from surgery."

Kerr was unable to attend Game 3 Saturday night and doesn't know when he’ll return. Sources told the San Jose Mercury News that Kerr was in so much pain he was barely able to walk, which “was scary because it wasn’t a feeling he’s had before.”

The team had only given vague reports that Kerr has an “illness” and is “not feeling well.”

"This past week, for whatever reason, things got worse and my symptoms got worse," Kerr said at a news conference Sunday.  "With things getting worse, I just made the decision that I couldn't coach. As of now, I'm consulting with my doctors. I'm hoping for some improvement. If I get some improvement, I'll get back on the sidelines. 

"I'm not going into details on the symptoms, it's just discomfort and pain. It's not fun. And I can tell you, if you're listening out there,  if you have a back problem, stay away from surgery. I can say that from the bottom of my heart."

In the past, Kerr has complained of headaches, nausea and neck pain.

Kerr missed the first 43 games of the 2015-16 NBA season due to complications from surgery for a ruptured spinal disk. The dura membrane that surrounds Kerr’s spinal cord was punctured during the operation, causing spinal fluid to leak. A second surgery was performed to stop the leak.

“It’s very rare, it does happen occasionally, but it happens when there’s an accidental nick of the dura that surrounds the spinal cord. But I lost spinal fluid, took about a month to figure out what was going on, a lot of headaches, some other symptoms,” Kerr said in October 2015.

Headaches, nausea, and burning, stinging or tingling pain in the back and legs are the classic symptoms of adhesive arachnoiditis, an inflammation that causes scar tissue to build around spinal nerves, causing them to adhere or stick together. The disease is progressive, incurable and difficult to treat.  Many patients developed arachnoiditis after surgeries or epidural steroid injections that permanently damaged their spines.

Neither Kerr or his doctors have said he has arachnoiditis.

There’s a great deal of debate in the medical community over the value of spinal injections, surgeries, spinal cord stimulators and other “interventional” procedures to treat back pain. About 9 million epidural steroid injections are performed annually in the United States, often as a substitute for opioid pain medication.