Arthritis Can’t Stop Professional Athletes
Arthritis affects millions of people, including many famous athletes you rout for each and every season. From homerun champs to legendary quarterbacks, these athletes are overcoming the pain and inflammation of the disease to take part in the games they love to play.
Nolan Ryan (National Baseball Hall of Famer)
The world knows Nolan Ryan as one of the greatest pitchers ever to play the game. An eight-time MLB All-Star, Ryan threw an amazing 5,714 career strikeouts during his 27 years in the major leagues. In his 30’s, however, Ryan began to experience signs of osteoarthritis and retired soon after.
Despite his sore knees, Ryan continues to stay active.
"Because the impact of running irritates my knees, I ride the bike, walk and swim instead," says Ryan. "I don't play tennis anymore because of the constant stress that starting and stopping suddenly produces," he adds. "But I still lift weights and stretch — even more regularly than during some of my younger days. And I've got to say, my strength and flexibility are pretty solid."
Hank Aaron (National Baseball Hall of Famer)
Hank Aaron is a living legend and a household name. For 21 consecutive seasons, Aaron never had a major injury and many of his records still stand today. But shortly after retiring from baseball, Aaron began to feel the effects of the game on his joints and was finally diagnosed with osteoarthritis just a few years ago.
Aaron decided to face arthritis head-on and started sharing his personal experience as part of the "Get Back in the Game" arthritis awareness campaign. In partnership with the company that makes the Synvisc-One injection that Aaron uses to reduce knee pain, he was able to raise money to help fund programs and research at the Arthritis Foundation.
"The reason I'm involved in the Get Back in the Game campaign is because I don't want people to give up," said Aaron. "I want them to understand that there is still hope out there for them, and to go to their doctor for advice."
Joe Namath (NFL Hall of Famer and Super Bowl MVP)
For 13 years, Joe Namath wowed football fans everywhere. He was one of the most-loved quarterbacks of all time, and his larger-than-life personality made him a household name. Even during his days on the field, Namath was plagued by knee problems and was finally diagnosed with osteoarthritis after his retirement from the sport. But despite his aches and pain, Namath made it his mission to help educate other people living with arthritis.
As the spokesperson for the "Get a Grip on Arthritis" program, Namath traveled around the United States and met with other people living with the disease. "I am hoping that people will listen to me when I tell them that they can help themselves to cope with this by exercising and doing some things differently," says Namath. "Maybe it will help them to know that I have some of the same limitations they do."