July 15, 2010 07:37:40 GMT
The actress did not realize that she has the injury until she visited a neurosurgeon after the tour is wrapped and has been scheduled to undergo surgery later this month.
Actress Melissa Gilbert suffered for her art on tour with the "Little House of the Prairie" musical - she performed with a broken back. The red head, who was a child star of the beloved TV series, hit the stage as her old character's mother for the hit production and now reveals she was in agony for much of the tour.
But she had no idea she'd actually broken her back. She tells People.com she visited a neurosurgeon in Los Angeles when the tour wrapped recently and was stunned with his diagnosis: "He came in and said, 'Your back is broken, and it has been for months'."
And now she understands why she was in so much pain on tour, saying "I would balk and fight it and say, 'I've got to do the show.' If it got really bad and I lost feeling in my legs or couldn't move, I'd go to the ER." She further shares, "I thought doing a musical at 46, playing a woman in her late 20s, early 30s was amazing enough. But doing it with a broken back buys me a little more street cred."
The actress will undergo surgery later this month, and she's looking forward to getting taller. She explains, "One of the things that is great is that I've lost about a half inch in my height and I will get that back."