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Morgan Freeman health: Actor, 84, left in ‘agony’ with ‘excruciating’ condition – symptoms

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The 84-year-old actor who has starred in the likes of The Shawshank Redemption, Million Dollar Baby and most recently Angel Has Fallen owes a lot to his iconic voice. The same voice that helped to win him a Golden Globe for his role in Driving Miss Daisy in 1989, was also nearly torn from him after a horror car crash left the star with a life-changing condition in 2008.

The crash occurred when the star was driving near his home in Charlston, Mississippi. Both him and a female companion then had to be cut free by emergency workers before being airlifted to hospital.

At the time, a spokesperson for Freeman – then aged 71 – described the state of his health as “serious” although the actor was conscious and talking to his rescuers.

According to the editor of the Charleston Sun Sentinel newspaper, who arrived at the scene shortly after the crash had taken place, Freeman had to be extracted from his Nissan Maxima after workers used hydraulic cutters, also known as “the jaws of life” to cut him free.

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It was concluded that the star, who was driving the car, had overcorrected causing it to flip over several times before coming to a rest.

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Since the crash, Freeman managed to recover with little to no visible injuries. However, unbeknown to most, the star was dealing with a hidden illness that often caused him “excruciating” pain.

The star was diagnosed with fibromyalgia – a disorder that causes long-term pain all over the body, and although not initially obvious, the condition stops Freeman from doing certain activities due a “useless left hand”.

In an interview with Esquire magazine back in 2012, the interviewer Tom Chiarella commented on how the actor frequently grabbed his left shoulder and winced.

The journalist observed: “It hurts when he walks, when he sits still, when he rises from his couch, and when he missteps in a damp meadow. More than hurts. It seems a kind of agony, though he never mentions it.

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“Despite surgery to repair nerve damage, he was stuck with a useless left hand. It is stiffly gripped by a compression glove most of the time to ensure that blood doesn’t pool there. It is a clamp, his pain, an icy shot up a relatively useless limb.

“He doesn’t like to show it, but there are times when he cannot help but lose himself to a world-ending grimace.”

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On noticing the obvious pain the star was in, Tom offered the question to the star, who gave a small insight into how exactly the condition affects him.

Freeman said: “It’s the fibromyalgia. Up and down the arm. That’s where it gets so bad. Excruciating.”

ue to the chronic pain, Freeman can no longer enjoy some of his former hobbies such as piloting jets, riding horses, driving [especially a manual car], or sailing by himself to the Caribbean to enjoy “complete isolation”.

Despite all of the things that have been taken away from him since the accident, Freeman went on to explain that he still enjoys the finer things in life.

He continued to say: “There is a point to changes like these. I have to move on to other things, to other conceptions of myself. I play golf. I still work. And I can be pretty happy just walking the land.”

The NHS explains that common symptoms of fibromyalgia include so much more than intense pain. Typical symptoms include:

  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Problems with mental processes (known as “fibro-fog”), such as problems with memory and concentration
  • Headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Researchers believe that repeated nerve stimulation causes the brain and spinal cord of people with the condition to alter. This alteration involves an abnormal increase in certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain.

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As well as this, the brain’s pain receptors seem to develop a “memory of pain,” meaning that they can overreact to both painful and non-painful signals.

Typically symptoms begin after an event, such as physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. But in other cases, symptoms can gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.

The condition is incurable, so treatments to help individuals deal with pain and symptoms often involve medication and self-care strategies. These strategies include physical therapy, counselling and relaxation techniques.

Fibromyalgia Action UK is a charity that offers information and support to people with fibromyalgia. They can be contacted on 0300 999 3333.


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