The reigning NBA Coach of the Year, Steve Kerr celebrated his NBA Title win with the Golden State Warriors after missing 11 playoff games this season due to a back injury. As the team celebrated with confetti and champagne, Kerr had a thick bandage around his neck and back. Men in suits followed the Coach around making sure no one touched his back. “I’ve been so lucky to be part of so many championship teams as a player and now as a coach, and it never gets old,” Kerr said. “But tonight, was a little different, just based on the things I’ve had to go through during this time.” Kerr’s case highlights the importance of visiting an orthopedic surgeon early to detect the cause of the injury.

Kerr suffers from leaking cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), due to what he calls a botched back surgery in summer of 2015. That surgery was to repair a ruptured disk in his back. He had a second surgery that did not successfully correct the problem. Since then Kerr has gone through a wide range of interventions to ease his symptoms, ranging from different medical treatments to yoga to meditation to marijuana.

Cerebrospinal fluid is the clear liquid that cushions the brain and spinal cord. Although these leaks can happen spontaneously, in Kerr’s case they were related to his first surgery. Kerr told the Washington Post, “I can tell you if you’re listening out there, stay away from back surgery. I can say that from the bottom of my heart. Rehab, rehab, rehab. Don’t let anyone get in there.” There are many alternative methods including neurostimulation, holistic approaches, Calmare therapy, and pain pumps.

The brain and spinal cord sit in a balloon of fluid that protects the spine and wards off infection. When this membrane is punctured during an accident or surgery, the CSF is no longer contained, causing a multitude of problems. The symptoms that CSF leaks cause include headaches, nausea, vomiting, neck and shoulder pain, and even balance problems. CSF leaks can also affect senses, impairing hearing and sense of smell, or lead to sensitivity to light and sound.

Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers said Steve Kerr will be back to coach the 2017-18 season. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he will return as the coach of this team,” Myers told ESPN. ”I’m confident we’ll have him back. Steve will be our coach.” Kerr, 51, has now accumulated a total of seven NBA titles, and joins the fight of millions to overcome back pain.

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