Spine Injury Sidelines DWTS Contestant

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

One of the hottest shows on television right now is Dancing With The Stars, seen right here on ABC and WNEP.  If you saw last week's elimination episode, you saw veteran ice skater and Olympic champion Dorothy Hamill bow out of the show because of problems with her spine.  She shocked the crowd- and reportedly even the show's producers- when she announced she could no longer continue because of back and foot pain.

"This isn't just muscle pain.  I could cause irreparable nerve damage.  So I'll meet with my doctor and we'll go from there," Hamill told a reporter.

Her doctor's diagnosis?  A synovial cyst.

"A synovial cyst is a type of arthritis of the spine, that grows out of one of the joints on the spine and can pinch a nerve, leading to leg and buttock pain, and back pain," explained Dr. Jonathan Slotkin, Director of Spinal Surgery at Geisinger Health Systems.

He says that pain could certainly cause difficulty with the back and the legs.  Whenever possible, he says he'd treat a patient with a synovial cyst with rest and activity modification.  If that didn't work, he'd try physical therapy.  In more severe cases a nerve block may be used for the pain.

Surgery is an option, but Dr. Slotkin says he'd try to avoid that if at all possible.

Bottom line, according to Dr. Slotkin, is that this case is worth noting because the 56-year-old Hamill is a former Olympic athlete who is otherwise in great condition.

"What this case illustrates to me is that these conditions can even affect people in absolute tip-top shape, in the prime of their life," he said.

Dorothy Hamill, who was the oldest contestant on the show this season, told USA Today she ideally wants to skate- and maybe even dance- again someday soon.