• Fans have wondered why Whoopi Goldberg was absent from The View for a week.
  • Goldberg returned to the show on June 29, where she announced she was briefly hospitalized for sciatica. She is now using a rollator.
  • Sciatica is a symptom of a problem with the largest nerve in the body. There can be many causes, but full recovery is possible.

    Whoopi Goldberg returned to The View on June 29 after being absent from the show for a week, which viewers asked if anything had happened to her. Goldberg, 64, posted an update on her health, saying she was “in a hospital room” and is now using a walker because of sciatic pain.

    “I wasn’t there because I was dealing with something called sciatica, which is basically a bulging disc in your back that affects the sciatic nerve that sends pain down your leg,” she explained.

    Sciatica is a symptom of a problem with the largest nerve in the body, according to the US National Library of Medicine. Your sciatic nerve controls the muscles in the back of your knee and lower leg, giving you a feel in the back of your thigh, part of your lower leg, and the sole of your foot. Sciatica, which usually only occurs on one side of the body, usually begins in the lower back before expanding to the leg, calf, foot, and even toes.

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    Goldberg joked that it was like a “bad friend” coming back to “mess with me.” She said it was “impossible” for her to move her leg and the pain she experienced was “really terrible”.

    Symptoms can vary from person to person, but the hallmark of sciatica is pain that, according to the Mayo Clinic, radiates from your lower spine to your buttocks and then into the back of your leg. The symptoms can also vary from mild pain to a sharp, burning sensation to excruciating pain.

    Most experts believe sciatica is related to aging, but that’s not necessarily true, says Neel Anand, MD, professor of orthopedic surgery and director of spinal trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles. “It can actually happen in people of all ages,” he says, even in people in their twenties. A herniated disc in the back, narrowing of the spinal canal (a condition called spinal canal stenosis), or an injury such as a pelvic fracture can lead to sciatica. However, it is often difficult for doctors to determine the cause.

    “I have a rollator, which kind of freaks me out. I didn’t know I needed it, ”said Goldberg. But now it’s like her “new best friend” after seeing how much it can help her.

    “Using a walker is not the standard of treatment, but some people enjoy using it,” said Anil Nanda, MD, Chair of Neurosurgery at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “Some people like the safety of the rollator because the pain can be so severe that they fall.”

    Depending on the cause of your sciatica, it’s entirely possible to have an episode once and then be okay, says Medhat Mikhael, MD, pain management specialist and medical director of the non-surgical program at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center’s Spine Health Center in Fountain Valley, California. Treatments vary from over-the-counter medications and gentle stretches to steroid injections and physical therapy.

    Preventive measures are also key to preventing future sciatica problems. “Do exercise regularly to keep your spine strong, maintain good posture when sitting, and use good body mechanics when you stand for long periods or do a lot of heavy lifting for work,” says Dr. Anand. “While it is impossible to completely eliminate your risk of sciatica, understanding that a painful episode is likely to be short-lived can go a long way in calming your mind if you decide to strike.”

    I wish Whoopi a speedy recovery!

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