Prince was dynamic on stage, but years of performing ravaged his hips, which may have indirectly led to his death.

Prince was dynamic on stage, but years of performing ravaged his hips, which may have indirectly led to his death.

Prince appears to have spent his final days wracked by pain from damaged hips. Determined to go on with his performances, he self-medicated with copious amounts of Percocet, a drug prescribed for pain, not the inflammation at the root of his suffering. In the end, his body just gave out.

The widely admired singer collapsed and died in an elevator at his sprawling Paisley Park home and studio on Thursday, April 21.

An autopsy is being performed in an attempt to establish a cause of death. But given the circumstances, Prince, 57, likely died from cardiac arrest brought on by his weakened condition, exhaustion and possible drug use, according to medical sources and references.

Prince apparently had been in frail condition for some time, which may have been exacerbated by his strict vegan diet, which could have left him malnourished. He also reportedly refused to have his hip treated because of his religion.

Prince joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2001. Practitioners do not believe in any medical treatment involving a blood transfusion. Prince reportedly was in need of double hip replacement surgery, which would have required one.

Many artists suffer from similar problems. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen underwent a double hip replacement also caused by years of pounding a stage.

Prince’s condition apparently took a turn for the worse last Friday. His private plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Quad City International Airport in Moline, Illinois and he was rushed to a hospital.

Although his reps initially said he was suffering from the flu, it was just a cover story. Prince was actually suffering from an overdose of Percocet and needed a “save shot” to counteract the drug.

Percocet is a prescription drug to treat pain. It’s made up of acetaminophen, a common over-the-counter pain reliever and oxycodone, an addictive opiate. The latter is sometimes called Hillbilly heroin because of its widespread abuse in poor rural areas of Appalachia.

While Oxycodone is by far the more dangerous drug, acetaminophen poses risks as well. Taking too much can cause severe heart, liver and kidney damage leading to death. It’s even more dangerous combined with alcohol.

If Prince was taking the drug in more than prescribed amounts and drinking alcohol on top of it, his body likely was ravaged internally, which could have contributed to his death, according to medical references.

What’s more, Percocet may have masked the pain, but it would have done nothing to relieve the underlying cause of the pain. Hip pain is usually caused by joint inflammation. He should have been prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug or taken cortisone shots.

But that also would have required rest, and Prince seemed determined to keep performing at all costs.

The seven-time Grammy award winner made his last performance at the The Fox Theatre in Atlanta last Thursday night. It was the second of back-to-back shows.

He appeared to perform without incident and attended a dance party in Minnesota last Saturday. “Wait a few days before you waste any prayers,” he reportedly told the crowd.

By then, he was probably suffering from exhaustion. On top of his other ailments, the side-effects from heavy Percocet use, finally cause his body to give out, leading to a heart attack.

Unbeknownst to him, Prince may also have been suffering from heart disease.

The medical examiner is expected to have preliminary results from an autopsy later this week. It may take four to six weeks to prepare a toxicology report.

Let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest developments.