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Red Wings legend Chris Chelios is no stranger to pain.

After playing hockey for more than 26 years, he said he’s injured just about every part of his body “from head to toe.” He’s also seen what some injuries, especially ones to the back, can do.

“Your back is such an important thing,” the Hall of Fame hockey defenseman said Sunday. “And pain can really take a toll, not just on you, but also on your family.”

Chelios made the remarks during a forum in Novi organized by the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System on how to manage chronic back pain. He was among the speakers at the “Oh My Aching Back” forum at the Suburban Collection Showplace. .

He said he was fortunate he never sustained serious back injury during his career. However, he watched a back injury sideline his father, who is in his 80s, a couple of years ago.

“He went from moving like a 65-year-old to moving like a 95-year-old,” Chelios said. “Slowly but surely with therapy, he was able to get moving again.”

Chelios said the keys to recovering from a back injury are to consult with a doctor, get into a good therapy program and be patient.

“There’s an answer out there,” he said. “It’s a lot of hard work. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight.”

Back pain is one of the most common health complaints in the U.S. Experts estimate it affects eight out of 10 people at some point in their lives.

At Sunday’s forum, Larry Schimmel said he can appreciate Chelios’ words.

The 56-year-old from Pinckney, who is a supply chain specialist for a Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital operating room, said he came to the seminar because he has suffered from a herniated disk in his neck for two years, and has had surgeries on his lower back.

“I’m here to get more information so I can make a decision about my treatment,” he said. “I’m also hoping to be able to speak with one of the panelists about acupuncture.”

A Red Wing from 1998-2009, Chelios also played for the Montreal Canadiens, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Atlanta Thrashers. He retired in 2010 after winning three Stanley Cup championships. Last year, he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Chelios serves as an operations adviser for the Red Wings, working primarily with prospects for the Grand Rapids Griffins.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2058

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