There has been much discussion since the musician Prince (Prince Rogers Nelson) died in April at the age of 57 and why he died so suddenly. Prince’s autopsy report indicates an overdose of fentanyl – an opioid. Some have questioned the factors that led to the overdose and Prince’s use of the opioid. There have been many things written that were very insensitive to the singer’s life. This blog post will discuss how Prince likely struggled with pain from hip deterioration and discuss if he had a hip replacement or needed one. The purpose of this article is not to diminish Prince in any way, but to show how managing pain is important to your quality of life when dealing with hip pain.
Prince Hip Replacement – Prince Prior to His Death
It was reported shortly after his death that Prince had not looked well for several days. Reports from some, including his brother-in-law, said he had not slept for six days. Some medical studies suggest that opioid use may have a strong influence on an individual sleep and some have suggested this was the reason for Prince’s insomnia.
Reports state that after his concert in Atlanta, his plane was diverted on the trip to Minneapolis. A source said that the plane had radioed in a medical emergency for an “unresponsive male” to the Moline, Illinois air traffic control. There was no record that Prince stayed at any hospital in the town, and a Prince spokesperson said he was treated for the flu in Moline and released later that day.
He was found just a few days later in an elevator on his estate.
Prince Hip Replacement – Did Prince Have Hip Replacement Surgery?
I wrote a blog post on September 26, 2015, titled 7 Musicians with Hip Replacements. Much of the information was interesting and some was tragic in that a musician’s pain and limitations may have resulted in the breakup of a group. I found some information about Prince at the time, but decided not to use it since the information did not come from good sources and could not be verified.
At the time there was some speculation that Prince had a hip replacement surgery. Several sources said Prince was prescribed and began using Percocet – a drug class opioid – after hip replacement surgery in 2010.
But other sources said he chose not to have the surgery because of the risks involved with blood transfusion – prohibited if you are a Jehovah’s Witness, a church Prince reportedly joined in 2001. Some say he needed the hip replacement surgery for over a decade due to injuries from dancing on stage and jumping from high speakers wearing platform shoes in his early career (see Lionel Richie).
More questions, speculation, and hearsay.
In 2013, Prince presented the Record of the Year award at the Grammy’s while using a cane for stability on stage. Reports said he had used the cane since 2009 which he rolled into his look. Prince likely used the cane to help walk with reduced pain. He was spotted using the cane more frequently up to his death in April 2016.
On June 4, ABC reported Prince’s autopsy results showed scars on his left hip and right lower leg. The autopsy did not describe what the scars were from, but it is possible the scars were evidence of past surgeries including a hip replacement. If this is the case, Prince could have had one hip replacement surgery in secret, and was dealing with the pain from the other hip that had not been replaced.
Prince Hip Replacement – Transfusion is a Hip Replacement Risk
Loss of blood requiring transfusion during surgery is a hip replacement risk. I only had one hip replaced when I had my surgery and lost a significant amount of blood during surgery.
According to my surgeon, I nearly required a blood transfusion. During my hospital recovery, I nearly passed out the day after surgery due to Vasovagal Syncope, caused by the amount of blood I lost during surgery. I was just short of needing a transfusion. Having both hips operated on at the same time, which my surgeon initially recommended, would have significantly increased my risk for a blood transfusion.
My personal speculation leads me to believe that Prince may have had his left hip replaced or had some kind of surgery to reduce his pain. His use of painkillers was to stave off surgery on the other hip. I understand not all hip replacement surgeries are successful and some patients have had hip revisions due to various issues with the procedure or wearing out of the implants. But most people report good outcomes following hip replacement surgery. It is difficult to know for sure as HIPAA laws prevent disclosure of a patient’s healthcare information by healthcare workers.
Prince Hip Replacement – My Experience With Opioids
Before my hip replacement surgery and diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the hip, my pain was increasing. Although I thought there was a chance I would eventually need hip replacement surgery, I had no idea I would need it so soon. When I had my orthopedic surgeon consult, I was told, in no uncertain terms, I needed hip replacement surgery right away, and that this was the cause of my pain. I was not prepared for the surgery and didn’t want it to hold me back from my work and life. I wanted to delay it, for a long time.
I was starting to go over my daily limit of acetaminophen and was increasingly having trouble sleeping and concentrating due to the pain. I talked with my primary care physician and asked her for some painkillers to help. She gave me a prescription for tramadol. I had a terrible reaction to it.
Shortly after taking tramadol, even though I was taking a small dose, I found it difficult to sleep. I stopped tramadol briefly to restore my sleep pattern. It didn’t work, and my pain came back in earnest. I increased the dose to the maximum dose and developed a rash on my stomach and extreme weakness in my muscles. I could barely walk, my stomach was numb, and I was unable to sleep for longer than one hour at a time. I thought taking more might help. I was wrong. It got worse I contacted my doctor and described the symptoms. She ordered me to stop taking the medication immediately. I swore off the use of everything outside of Tylenol and contacted my orthopedic surgeon to schedule hip replacement surgery. I would manage the pain in a different way.
If tramadol had not caused lack of sleep or a bad reaction, there is the chance that I could have become addicted to it and required more and more to stop my pain. I should point out, there was no education on the drug. I was to take as little does as I needed to stop the pain, up to the maximum dose.
I am completely aware that not everyone has the option to go off painkillers and schedule surgery.
I am completely aware that Prince probably had motivation and reasons for taking pain killers
I wasn’t a bad person for taking the opioid medication. I was trying to function, do my work, and keep on with my life. I was also trying to avoid the hip replacement surgery which would consume several months of my life. Like the medication fentanyl that Prince was taking, tramadol is also considered an opioid. It has the following risks:High risk for addiction and dependence.
- Can cause respiratory distress and death when taken in high doses or when combined with other substances, especially alcohol.
I wrote this blog post to show you the importance of the overall balance of wellness that results from managing our personal health choices. Constant pain through something like hip osteoarthritis can wreck our daily lives. Proper pain management is something you must do with a trained medical professional. Don’t manage it on your own. Prince’s death is an example of how careful we must be when managing opioids and making a decision to have surgery when we we have the opportunity.
Prince Hip Replacement – Conclusion and Engagement
I would like your thoughts on Prince and what you think might have caused his use of a cane and his opioid use. Do you think he had hip pain or received a hip replacement? What are your thoughts about opioids to relieve chronic pain? Could Prince have had some sort of surgery to alleviate his pain? How does this relate to those who are dealing with hip osteoarthritis and their chronic pain?
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Association, P.: Prince did not sleep for six days before death – brother-in-law, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-3556990/prince-did-not-sleep-six-days-death–brother-law.html.
Gizauskas, R.: Prince’s secret health battles included epilepsy and 'double hip replacement' – Mirror Online, http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/princes-secret-health-battles-included-7808741.
M.D., J.T.: Pain’s secret message: Why Prince didn’t need to die | Fox News, http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/06/02/pains-secret-message-why-prince-didnt-need-to-die.html.
Prince (musician), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/prince_(musician).
Tramadol Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & Warnings – Drugs.com, http://www.drugs.com/tramadol.html.
Why did Prince have a cane? Did someone swear on air? Grammy questions answered, http://www.today.com/news/why-did-prince-have-cane-did-someone-swear-air-grammy-1b8325419.
Carla K. Johnson, AP Medical Writer: Prince Autopsy Report Hints at Puzzling Painkiller Mystery, http://abcnews.go.com/entertainment/wirestory/prince-autopsy-report-hints-puzzling-painkiller-mystery-39595732.