In a recent interview with People, Dan Reynolds, the frontman of Grammy-award winning band Imagine Dragons, opened up and talked about how at the age of 21 “debilitating” pain that he was experiencing caused him to cancel shows.
Dan’s health problems began just as the band was starting to achieve minor success selling out small clubs and performing very active shows. He commented, “It was beyond the pain that you feel when it’s just a back ache. It felt like someone was drilling my nerves. I couldn’t get on stage. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t sleep at night, I couldn’t perform without standing perfectly still. I couldn’t sit down for more than a half an hour.” Even after numerous visits to doctors, there was no diagnosis as to the cause of the pain.
Finally, his brother suggested that he consult a rheumatologist to check for the possibility of a condition known as ankylosing spondylitis (AS), a chronic inflammatory condition of the joints that can lead to extreme pain, which two of his siblings have. He was diagnosed with the disease and put on a treatment plan that involves him staying active and eating healthy. One of the things that he has found that helps him is doing a lot of yoga.
Dan is now 29 years of age and admits that he had certain trepidations about sharing his diagnosis with his fans. He said, “I was shy to reveal it because it made me feel like something was wrong with me, or — to say the word disease, it’s such a drastic sounding word. And I didn’t want to admit to myself, or to anybody, that I was struggling with a disease.” Now he is helping others who suffer from AS through an interactive online talk show called This AS Life Live! Actual patients with AS host the program.
Dan further comments that the support of family and loved ones are crucial. He says that his Imagine Dragons bandmates are supportive, but he credits his wife, Aja Volkman, for being “endlessly patient.” He told People, “There was probably six months of my life where I could hardly do anything — I couldn’t lift things, and [Aja] was just patient through all of it.”
Dan is back in the studio recording a third album which he believes should be released sometime in 2017. He has a four-year-old daughter, Arrow, and twins – a boy and a girl – due next April. Although his AS is in remission, he shares, “There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not combatting it in some way.”