Melissa Gilbert is scheduled to undergo surgery for a broken back later this month.
Gilbert, 46, recently wrapped the stage musical tour of Little House on the Prairie in which she played the character of Ma. As a child star in the ’70s and ’80s, Melissa starred as Laura in the television series of the same name. The actress said she suffered back pain during the production of the musical, but didn’t consult a neurosurgeon until the show ended.
“He came in and said, ‘Your back is broken, and it has been for months,’” Gilbert told PEOPLE.com this week. “I sort of was in shock for a while. … 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.”
Gilbert will undergo surgery July 22 to replace a disc with a plastic implant and fuse a vertebra in her lower spine.