Injured Dancing With the Stars Pro Derek Hough: I’m Going to “Keep Going Strong”

Derek Hough attends "The Choreographers: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow" event on November 1, 2012 in North Hollywood, California.  Tibrina Hobson/FilmMagic

Derek Hough isn’t going to let a little neck injury stand between him and what he’s most passionate about.

After aggravating a pre-existing neck injury during his performance on October 30, Hough had to sit out Monday night’s installment of Dancing With the Stars‘ All Star season.

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Still, the pro was in good spirits throughout the show. He cheered on his partner Shawn Johnson (plus his substitute, Mark Ballas) from the audience, and chatted with Us Weekly post-show about how he’s doing.

“It’s discomfort. The pain will be up and down,” he explained. “I had a proper diagnosis this morning and I am going to have to have surgery on it eventually. The bone is just rubbing on the nerve. But you know, I’m not going to do any more damage to it and I’m going to keep going and keep going strong.”

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Adding that he hopes he’s “fine to dance next week,” Hough joked that he and his Olympic gymnast partner — who has knee issues from her years of competing — have bonded over their respective injuries.

“We have icing parties!” he laughed. “She ices her knee while I ice my neck.”

Ballas, for his part, says he was thrilled to be able to step in and help Hough out, and that he enjoyed being able to work professionally with the injured dancer to help Johnson perfect this week’s routine.

mark ballas and shawn johnson
Mark Ballas and Shawn Johnson

“We’ve been dancing together since we were nine years old so we have an interesting way of coming into the studio together and just banging it out,” Ballas explained. “I feel like what’s different about me and what’s different about him . . . our different ways of teaching fill every gap and hole, so it’s just great having both sets of eyes, especially with someone as talented as Shawn.”

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Their teamwork paid off in a big way — Johnson scored a perfect 30/30 for her tango/paso doble fusion dance. Even more important than their judges’ score, though, it turns out their joint choreography made one special viewer very proud.

Said Ballas, “My mom just texted me and said, ‘Well done to both of you, you [and Derek] both made me cry!”

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