Lady Gaga: ‘Chronic Pain Is No Joke’

By Pat Anson, PNN Editor

One of the few celebrities brave enough to speak openly about their battle with chronic pain is talking about it again – in a fashion magazine.

"Chronic pain is no joke. And it's every day waking up not knowing how you're going to feel," Lada Gaga told Vogue in a cover story.

Last year, Lady Gaga revealed that she suffers from fibromyalgia, a poorly understood disorder characterized by deep tissue pain, fatigue, depression and insomnia.

A pain flare up forced her to cancel several concert appearances, which led some skeptics to complain that it was a publicity stunt to promote “Gaga: Five Foot Two,” a Netflix documentary that shows the singer being treated for chronic pain.

Lady Gaga says her fibromyalgia is very real – along with the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) she has from being sexually assaulted as a teenager.

"I get so irritated with people who don't believe fibromyalgia is real," she told Vogue. "For me, and I think for many others, it's really a cyclone of anxiety, depression, PTSD, trauma, and panic disorder - all of which sends the nervous system into overdrive, and then you have nerve pain as a result.

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“You know that feeling when you’re on a roller coaster and you’re just about to go down the really steep slope? That fear and the drop in your stomach? My diaphragm seizes up. Then I have a hard time breathing, and my whole body goes into a spasm. And I begin to cry. That’s what it feels like for trauma victims every day, and it’s… miserable. I always say that trauma has a brain. And it works its way into everything that you do.”

The 32-year old singer said it took years for her to open up about the sexual assault.

“No one else knew. It was almost like I tried to erase it from my brain. And when it finally came out, it was like a big, ugly monster. And you have to face the monster to heal,” she said. “I felt like I was lying to the world because I was feeling so much pain but nobody knew. So that’s why I came out and said that I have PTSD, because I don’t want to hide — any more than I already have to.”

In addition to fibromyalgia and PTSD, Lady Gaga also lives with synovitis, a chronic inflammation in her hip caused by overuse and injury.  Like many pain sufferers, the singer has tried a variety of different treatments to ease her discomfort – from massage to hot saunas to Epsom salt baths. In 2016, she posted on Instagram an image of herself sitting in a sauna wrapped in an emergency blanket.

Lady Gaga’s battle with chronic pain is only a small part of her interview with Vogue. She’s helping to promote A Star is Born – her new film with Brad Cooper that premiers next month.

A Pained Life: It Never Hurts to Ask

By Carol Levy, Columnist

Recently a documentary was released on Netflix about Lady Gaga.  A part of her story is that she has fibromyalgia. 

I have not seen the film, but understand she devotes a little time to detailing and showing how she deals with chronic pain, both physicially and emotionally. Articles and posts abound in chronic pain social media about the film and Lady Gaga's pain.

The odd thing is many of the writers start by complaining that people don’t understand their pain, why they have to take drugs, and why they can't do many things that seem so easy to everyone else. 

Then, strangely, they do exactly what they complain happens to them.  They express doubts about Lady Gaga’s diagnosis, wonder if she is malingering, and say she can't really have fibro because her level of suffering and disability is not the same as theirs.

It seems we in the chronic pain community want to have our cake and eat it, too.  We want to have the discussion about chronic pain made public. We want awareness. But the awareness has to be exactly the way we want it or we don't want it at all

SCENE FROM "GAGA: FIVE FOOT TWO"

SCENE FROM "GAGA: FIVE FOOT TWO"

Many in the pain community express feelings that anything in the public eye that even hints of chronic pain should be about the person's struggles and life interruptions caused by pain.  Lady Gaga is a case in point. 

“She didn’t talk enough about fibro,” writes one person, others echoing the sentiment. “I thought from all the hype I heard it was going to be about that.” 

It would have been terrific if Lady Gaga had devoted more time to her disease and its effects on her life, but then that really was not the point of the documentary.

“Some of the film may actually be hurtful to some of us, as it shows her being able to do very physical things that are often beyond many of us as we struggle with the pain. If you have watched her perform she is not a sedentary singer,” wrote one poster on social media.  

Maybe it is worth asking her. Could you do something more, maybe another film or even just a commercial, that would bring needed attention to chronic pain and its effects on our lives?  

Last month was Pain Awareness Month, and it went by with almost no awareness or notice at all.  Lady Gaga might be the awareness hook that we need.

But we need to stop lamenting, hoping and complaining that no one is doing enough.  It is past time to take the bull by the horns.  We have to do it ourselves.  As they say, if not now, when? If not us, who?

And who knows? If someone or a bunch of someones ask Lady Gaga or another celebrity to be our voice, they might actually respond. If we don't ask, we’ll never know if they want to help the pain community.

The worst they can say is no.  And maybe, just maybe, we can get a “Yes.”

Carol Levy250.jpg

Carol Jay Levy has lived with trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic facial pain disorder, for over 30 years. She is the author of “A Pained Life, A Chronic Pain Journey.” 

Carol is the moderator of the Facebook support group “Women in Pain Awareness.” Her blog “The Pained Life” can be found here.

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Pain News Network.

Lady Gaga Denies ‘Making Up’ Her Chronic Pain

By Pat Anson, Editor

Lady Gaga has postponed the European leg of her “Joanne” concert tour, announcing in an Instagram post that “trauma and chronic pain have changed my life” and would keep her from performing for several weeks.

Last week the 31-year old entertainer also canceled a concert appearance in Brazil and revealed for the first time that she suffers from fibromyalgia.

“Lady Gaga is suffering from severe physical pain that has impacted her ability to perform," tour promoter Live Nation said in a statement. "She remains under the care of expert medical professionals who recommended the postponement."

Some critics have questioned the severity of Lady Gaga’s pain, claiming she used it as an excuse to postpone her tour or as a publicity stunt to promote “Gaga: Five Foot Two,” a Netflix documentary that shows her being treated for chronic pain.

scene from "gaga: five foot two"

scene from "gaga: five foot two"

Lady Gaga responded to the criticism with the lengthy post on Instagram.

“As I get stronger and when I feel ready, I will tell my story in more depth, and plan to take this on strongly so I can not only raise awareness, but expand research for others who suffer as I do,” she wrote.

“I use the word ‘suffer’ not for pity, or attention, and have been disappointed to see people online suggest that I'm being dramatic, making this up, or playing the victim to get out of touring. If you knew me, you would know this couldn't be further from the truth. I'm a fighter. I use the word suffer not only because trauma and chronic pain have changed my life, but because they are keeping me from living a normal life. They are also keeping me from what I love the most in the world: performing for my fans.”

The Live Nation statement said Lady Gaga would “spend the next seven weeks proactively working with her doctors.”  

The singer's European concerts were scheduled to begin Thursday in Barcelona, Spain and run through the end of October.  Fans were told to keep their tickets until the concerts were rescheduled.  Lady Gaga is still scheduled to perform during the second leg of her North American tour, which begins November 5 in Indianapolis.

Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood disorder characterized by deep tissue pain, fatigue, depression and insomnia. As many as 90 percent of fibromyalgia cases are diagnosed in women.

Lady Gaga also has chronic hip pain from synovitis, an inflammation of the joint that can be caused by overuse or injury. Her struggle with chronic pain reportedly began over a decade ago with physical and emotional trauma caused by a sexual assault.

“I have always been honest about my physical and mental health struggles. Searching for years to get to the bottom of them. It is complicated and difficult to explain, and we are trying to figure it out,” Lady Gaga wrote on Instagram.

“I am looking forward to touring again soon, but I have to be with my doctors right now so I can be strong and perform for you all for the next 60 years or more. I love you so much.”

Lady Gaga: Chronic Pain Patients Shouldn’t Feel Alone

By Pat Anson, Editor

It’s rare for a celebrity to talk openly their health problems, but Lady Gaga is speaking up about her battle with fibromyalgia and chronic hip pain. 

During a news conference at the Toronto Film Festival promoting her Netflix documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two, Lady Gaga fought back tears as she described how “liberating” it was for the film to cover her decade-long struggle with chronic pain.

“There is an element and a very strong piece of me that believes pain is a microphone. My pain does me no good unless I transform it into something that is. So I hope people watching it who do struggle with chronic pain know that they're not alone. It's freeing for me ... and I want people that struggle with it to hear me,” the 31-year old entertainer said.

“There is a degree of self-deprecation and shame with feeling in pain a lot. And I want people that watch it — that think there's no way I live (with chronic pain) because they see me dance and sing and don't think that could possibly be — to know I struggle with things like them. I work through it and it can be done. We have to stick together. I don't have to hide it because I'm afraid it's weak.”

In a teaser for the film, there are shots of Lada Gaga wincing in pain as she receives injections on a surgical table. 

"It was incredibly hard, on a basic fundamental human level, to be near someone experiencing pain like that. There's nothing you can do, beyond filming," said director Chris Moukarbel.

"I felt I needed to continue to roll. She was very aware of people struggling with similar chronic pain. She's not even sure how to deal with it.”

a scene from "GAGA: Five FOOT TWO"

a scene from "GAGA: Five FOOT TWO"

“It's a part of me, and I'm grateful to Chris for caring. The compassion is overwhelming. That's why it makes me emotional. It's very touching,” Lady Gaga said.

The singer’s struggle with chronic pain reportedly began with physical and emotional trauma from a sexual assault. She later suffered a hip injury, but hid her pain from fans and her own staff until she required surgery in 2013. The singer now reportedly suffers from synovitis, an inflammation of the joint that can be caused by overuse or injury.

“I hid my injury until I couldn’t walk,” Lady Gaga told Arthritis Magazine in March. “I had a tear on the inside of my joint and huge breakage.

Lady Gaga also recently acknowledged that she has pain from fibromyalgia.

"I wish to help raise awareness & connect people who have it," she wrote in a Tweet.

"Thought ice helped #Fibromyalgia. I was wrong & making it worse. Warm/Heat is better. Electric Heated Blanket, Infrared Sauna, Epsom Baths."

Lady Gaga fibro.png

Last November, Lady Gaga posted on Instagram an image of herself sitting in a sauna wrapped in an emergency blanket. Months later, she set aside her pain and soared around a stadium during a spectacular halftime show at theSuper Bowl.  

The singer told reporters in Toronto she was going to take a break from performing and  “slow down for a moment, for some healing.”  That prediction came true days later when she cancelled plans for a concert in Brazil because of severe pain.

"I was taken to the hospital its not simply hip pain or wear & tear from tour, I'm in severe pain. I'm in good hands w/ the very best doctors," she wrote on Twitter. "Brazil, I'm devastated that I'm not well enough 2 come to Rock In Rio. I would do anything 4 u but I have to take care of my body right now."

Lady Gaga May Not Have Rheumatoid Arthritis

By Pat Anson, Editor

Lady Gaga has not publicly disclosed that her chronic hip pain is caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

In a cover story published in Arthritis Magazine, the 31-year old entertainer appears to be quoted as saying, “I fought RA pain with my passion." The issue hasn’t been released yet, but a copy of the magazine cover is already circulating on Twitter.

Several websites, including Pain News Network, have wrongly assumed the quote was attributed to Lady Gaga. We regret the error.

The magazine story focuses on a “career-threatening injury" that Lady Gaga suffered and "why she’ll never ignore joint pain again.” But the article only states that she suffers from synovitis, an inflammation of the joint that can be caused by overuse or injury.

Synovitis is also a common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but Lady Gaga never actually says she suffers from the autoimmune disease.

The singer hid her chronic pain from fans and even her own staff until 2013, when she finally had surgery to repair the injured hip.

“I hid my injury until I couldn’t walk,” Lady Gaga told Arthritis Magazine. “I had a tear on the inside of my joint and huge breakage.

“The surgeon told me that if I had done another show, I might have needed a full hip replacement. I would have been out at least a year, maybe longer.”

Lady Gaga has been fairly open about her struggle with chronic pain. Last November, she posted on Instagram two images of herself, trying to ease her pain by getting her shoulder massaged and by sitting in a sauna.

“Having a frustrating day with chronic pain, but I find myself feeling so blessed to have such strong intelligent female doctors. I think about Joanne too and her strength and the day gets a little easier," she posted.   

“Joanne” is Lady Gaga’s aunt, who died from lupus at the age of 19 before the singer was even born. The posts drew an outpouring of support from her Instagram followers.

“I was so overwhelmed by the empathy, confessions & personal stories of chronic pain in response to my previous post I thought what the hell. Maybe I should just share some of my personal remedies I've acquired over the past five years,” she said.

“When my body goes into a spasm one thing I find really helps is infrared sauna. I've invested in one. They come in a large box form as well as a low coffin-like form and even some like electric blankets! You can also look around your community for a infrared sauna parlor or homeopathic center that has one."

Lady Gaga is apparently coping quite well with her pain. She soared around the stadium during a spectacular halftime show at this year's Super Bowl. According to the magazine, Lady Gaga is planning another concert tour as well as her first movie, a remake of A Star is Born.

Lady Gaga Turns Up the Heat to Fight Chronic Pain

By Pat Anson, Editor

Lady Gaga is well known for her unconventional approach to singing, fashion and just about everything else.

So it’s not altogether surprising that the 30-year old entertainer has some unusual remedies for chronic pain -- including infrared saunas, ice baths, emergency blankets and frozen peas.  

Lada Gaga recently shared on Instagram details about her “frustrating” battle with chronic pain, along with two photos of herself getting treatment.

The first photo, posted Thursday, shows a hand apparently massaging Lady Gaga’s shoulder, along with a caption.

“Having a frustrating day with chronic pain, but I find myself feeling so blessed to have such strong intelligent female doctors. I think about Joanne too and her strength and the day gets a little easier," she wrote.   

“Joanne” is Lady Gaga’s aunt – who died from lupus at the age of 19 before the singer was even born. Although they never met, Lady Gaga has always felt a connection to her late aunt, who was the inspiration for her newest album.

After an outpouring of support from her Instagram followers, Lady Gaga posted another photo of herself on Friday, showing the singer sitting in a sauna wrapped in an emergency blanket. It’s a remedy she uses to relieve pain and inflammation.

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“I was so overwhelmed by the empathy, confessions & personal stories of chronic pain in response to my previous post I thought what the hell. Maybe I should just share some of my personal remedies I've acquired over the past five years. Everyone's body and condition is different U should consult w ure Dr. but what the heck here we go!” she wrote.

“When my body goes into a spasm one thing I find really helps is infrared sauna. I've invested in one. They come in a large box form as well as a low coffin-like form and even some like electric blankets! You can also look around your community for a infrared sauna parlor or homeopathic center that has one.

"I combine this treatment with marley silver emergency blankets (seen in the photo) that trap in the heat and are very cheap, reusable and effective for detox as well as weight loss!”

Lady Gaga likes to alternate between hot and cold therapy.

“In order to not overheat my system and cause more inflammation i follow this with either a VERY cold bath, ice bath (if u can stand it, it's worth it) or the most environmentally savvy way is to keep many reusable cold packs in the freezer ( or frozen peas' n carrots'!) and pack them around the body in all areas of pain,” she wrote.

Lada Gaga reportedly suffers from synovitis, a painful inflammation of the joints, that apparently stems from a hip injury she suffered during a concert. The pain grew was so bad she was unable to walk at times.

After years of hiding her chronic pain from fans and even her own staff, Lady Gaga had surgery in 2013 to repair the injured hip and missed several concerts as a result.

She’s now one of the few celebrities to speak openly about her experience with chronic pain.

“Hope this helps some of you, it helps me to keep doing my passion, job and the things I love even on days when I feel like I can't get out of bed. Love you and thank you for all your positive messages,” she wrote on Instagram.