After a weeklong absence from The View, Whoopi Goldberg gave viewers an update about what happened—and why she needed to be hospitalized.
“Yes, it’s me, I’m back,” Goldberg said on the June 29, 2021, episode of The View. “I was out because I was dealing with something called sciatica,” she explained, “which is basically a bulging disc in your back and it impacts the sciatic nerve, which sends pain down your leg.”
The sciatic nerve branches off from your lower back, through your hips and butt, and down the back of each leg, the Mayo Clinic explains. When the nerve is pinched, it can cause pain and discomfort that radiates down the leg along the path of the sciatic nerve. Most commonly, a herniated or bulging disc is the cause of that pinching. But a spinal bone spur or a condition called spinal stenosis can also cause sciatica.
For some people, sciatica pain is a mild ache or a sharp excruciating sensation, the Mayo Clinic explains. Others feel something like an electric jolt, tingling, or even muscle weakness.
“I’m telling you, it’s like a bad boyfriend who came back to mess with me,” Goldberg said of the pain. “There I was trying to move my leg, impossible to do. It was really horrible but I’m glad to be here.”
Treatment for sciatica can include medications, such as muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications. For more severe pain, treatment may require corticosteroid injections, which directly affect inflammation around the nerve, the Mayo Clinic says. In even more severe cases, such as if other pain relief options aren’t helpful or if the compressed sciatic nerve is causing bladder issues or serious muscle weakness, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure on the nerve. Once the initial pain has subsided, physical therapy may be useful to regain movement in the affected area and help strengthen your back muscles to prevent further injuries.
Goldberg didn’t give too many details about her treatment process, but she said that she’s been laying in a hospital room and using a walker to get around. “I didn’t know I needed it,” she said. “And you know what? That first step with the walker, this is my new best friend. I am just gliding along.”