Abdul went through 12 surgeries and tried various pain medications — some with heavy-duty side effects — before she found relief. To top it off, Abdul kept her pain a secret to the public, even through her successful dance videos and recording career in the early 1990s.
Today, Abdul says she feels better than ever, due to a proper diagnosis. Now, she just gets injections of a medication, with low side effects, called Enbrel.
The actor suffered chronic pain after suffering a severe head injury while shooting the 2005 geopolitical thriller "Syriana."
"It was the most unbearable pain I've ever been through," Clooney said in an interview with MSNBC.com. "Literally, where you'd go, 'Well, you'll have to kill yourself at some point, because you can't live like this.'"
Clooney, 45, filmed a scene in which he was strapped in a chair and beaten when the chair was kicked over. Clooney ripped his dura, a membranous wrap around the spinal cord, which helps hold in the spinal fluid. He refused to take pain medications, and continued to act through the pain. But he decided to pursue surgery after spinal fluid began to leak out of his nose.
Dr. Christopher Chisholm, an anesthesiologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., said that actors may suffer significant long-term wear and tear from physically challenging roles, particularly as they get older.
"The expectation is that they are a professional, and it is part of their craft," Chisholm said. "Like any performer, they are expected to perform."
Clooney went on to win a best supporting actor Academy Award for that performance, but he says he still suffers from short-term memory loss.
The star of the blockbuster "Spider-Man" trilogy almost did not make it into his Spidey outfit for the second film, because of the on-and-off back pain he has had for several years.
"I saw the animatics and the story boards of the stunts that I was to do on ['Spider-Man 2'], and I was a little concerned about it," Maguire said in an interview with Sci Fi Weekly. "[I] felt it was my responsibility to disclose my back discomfort to the studio, and to the insurance company, and to the filmmakers, which I did. They were understandably concerned."
Maguire said his condition was likely worsened by the horse riding required by his role in the Academy Award-nominated "Seabiscuit," during the previous year.
Though Maguire may have felt obliged to disclose pertinent medical information to the filmmakers, many actors may have gone on with the show, even if it meant performing dangerous stunts, rather than losing a plum role because of chronic pain.
Performing their own stunts gives actors credibility with an audience. But ultimately, if they are not properly trained, they may put themselves at greater risk for injury, Chisholm said.
"We want to believe he is actually playing that role, and actors feel that," he said. "But when you ignore pain and don't try to address it, it leads to long-term chronic disorders."
Griffith, an Oscar-nominated actress, has long battled chronic pain and painkiller addiction.
A car accident on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles left Griffith, then in her early 20s, with chronic neck pain. She was treated with painkillers, but became addicted to them, in addition to her prior addiction to alcohol and cocaine.