The pain has not kept Derek down, however. In 2002, accompanied by football star Joe Theismann and other celebrities who have battled pain, she spoke out about her experiences at a New York event. The gathering was sponsored by Partners Against Pain, an organization that brings together patients, caregivers and health-care providers, with the goal of advancing standards of pain care, through education and advocacy.
During the event, Derek discussed the importance of celebrities, and others in the public eye, sharing information about their pain.
Pain experts say that Derek's advocacy could serve as an inspiring role model for others who suffer from chronic pain.
"It legitimizes the condition, and it provides a role model of someone who is successful," Kaniecki noted. "Perhaps because they're more interesting, it's more effective."
Theismann, a retired quarterback for the Washington Redskins, suffers from chronic joint pain as a result of his years in the National Football League.
"There were times when I didn't want to get out of bed. I was scared to death that one sneeze, or movement the wrong way, would make me so debilitated that I shouldn't be able to do anything again," Theismann told ABC affiliate WCBV-TV. Now, Theismann says, he has learned to "function carefully."
The pounding that professional football players endure, like Theismann did every time he was sacked, can wear down joints. Often, football players get debilitating osteoarthritis at a very young age.
Theismann was famous for taking a beating on the field. In his 15-year professional career, he suffered seven broken noses, a broken collarbone, broken legs, broken hands and broken ribs.
During a 1985 game, a New York Giants linebacker jumped on Theismann's back, just as another Giant hit his leg, breaking the fibula and the tibia, according to the Washington Post. The incident can be seen as a famous documentation of bone-crunching pain on YouTube.com.
Short of breaking their legs, sports celebrities rarely get sympathy for the pain they endure in their careers. "People often say, 'You're paid a lot of money to do this, so get it taken care of,'" Kaniecki, said, adding that people should remember sports celebrities still have to perform through pain.
Chronic knee pain has plagued the career of NBA player Allan Houston — and many other basketball players.
Two years ago, Houston retired, saying he had "exhausted everything that I had," to overcome chronic knee problems, according to The New York Times. Houston's left knee has chronic arthritis, apparently caused by a rushed comeback from microfracture surgery on his right knee.
Playing too soon after an injury can destroy the joints of any player in any sport. In Houston's case, the arthritis caused more than pain; it caused problems with his performance.
According to The Associated Press, Houston averaged a career best 22.5 points in 2002 to 2003. But his knee problems severely limited him in his final season, and he scored only 11.9 points per game.
But Houston hasn't let the pain of arthritis win yet. At 36, he rejoined the New York Knicks in October. Guard Jamal Crawford told the AP that Houston can still play.
"Didn't miss a shot, really," Crawford said. "I think he shot 100 shots and made 96 of them, just to get loose. So, he still can shoot."