How JFK Ran The Country In Severe Back Pain

Eight Different Medications Just To Get Through The Day…

So let’s just imagine you’re the President of the United States and every morning you make a trip to your doctor’s office.  You have brutally severe back pain.  The doctor gives you eight, yes, eight different medications ranging from pain killers to antispasmodics and even antidepressants.

Everyday starts off this way because otherwise, it’s going to be incredibly painful and impossible to function normally.  Top that off by dealing with politicians, ruthless despots and problems at home.  Such was the life of John F. Kennedy and how he dealt with severe back pain before and during his presidency.  Now the causes of his back pain were widely debated.  Theories ranged from football and war injuries to steroid injections taken as a child for digestive problems.

Just to give you an idea how secretive his back pain was, JFK’s medical records weren’t released until around 2002…a full 39 years after his passing.  You probably had a better chance breaking into the CIA offices than you did learning about his medical problems.  The same was true for Franklin Roosevelt, even photo opportunities were carefully scripted to cover up illnesses and ailments.

The types of treatments JFK had to endure were as intense as the pain in his back.    One story relates to his first year as president in 1961.  Kennedy could be heard screaming in pain when Jacqueline Kennedy rushed in from another room to call for the White House doctor Dr. Janet Travell.  All the good doctor could do was numb his pain with an injection of procaine deep into the back muscles.

But this only worked as a temporary measure.

Treating back pain today isn’t all much different.  In fairness, treatment depends on the type of back problems you’re having but here’s a list of treatments by WebMD.  So what do you do when you’re in severe back pain and trying to still go to work?  The easy answer is to see a doctor, get plenty of rest and stay away from the office.  But let’s be honest, most of us just don’t have that luxury.

JFK had to tough it out.  He had a country to run and domestic and international problems that weren’t going to wait for his pain to go away.  Imagine Fidel Castro or Nikita Khrushchev saying, “hey wait the President of the United States has back pain.  Let’s wait to threaten the western hemisphere with nuclear weapons!”

So what’s your method for dealing with muscle pain at work?  Leave some comments below and let us know!

Portable Back Heat Wrap:  Check it Out!


NY Times, “In J.F.K. File, Hidden Illness, Pain and Pills”

Practical Pain Management – “JFK Pain Story”