Golf, Hockey and Arthritis?
When you think about professional athletes, you think about men and women at their peak. You think about people in great physical shape, who train day in and day out to better their game and rewrite the history books. But professional athletes are not immune to diseases, and years of rugged training often leave them with joint injuries that can develop into arthritis. Despite living with arthritis, these professional athletes have learned how to manage their diseases and continue to have success both on and off the field.
Phil Mickelson (PGA Hall of Famer)
Golf legend Phil Mickelson knows all too well the pain of arthritis. Last year, just weeks before he was scheduled to tee off at the 2010 U.S. Open, Phil began to experience tremendous joint pain. Shortly after the pain began, Phil was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis affects about 5 percent of people who have psoriasis and can affect the entire body, often causing bone and other joint tissues to become inflamed, especially around the joints in the fingers and the spine.
With help from his doctors, Phil has found a treatment regimen that works for him and has gotten back to golfing. He even began the "On Course with Phil Mickelson" program, with support from Amgen and Pfizer, to help others understand psoriatic arthritis.
"This [program] is meant to give people who have similar symptoms the tools and resources that will help them get questions of their own answered," said Mickelson. "I was so lucky, because I got on it right away, so I was able to slow or stop any further damage."
Nancy Lopez (LPGA Hall of Famer)
Nancy Lopez is one of the greatest golfers ever to play on the LPGA tour. For decades, Nancy made one great shot after another and was the youngest person ever inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame. But in her early 40s, Nancy was diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knee. That hasn’t stopped her though. Nancy has learned how to live with arthritis, while still participating in the sport she loves. In fact, Nancy was honored with the opening of her own exhibit at the World Gold Hall of Fame earlier this year.
Wayne Gretsky (Hockey Hall of Famer)
Wayne Gretsky is one of the greatest hockey players to ever play the sport. For 20 years, Gretsky wowed on the ice and broke record after record, earning him the nickname – "The Great One." But in his 30’s, Gretsky began experiencing moderate joint pain and swelling and was diagnosed with osteoarthritis at the age of 38. Even after his diagnosis, Gretzky didn’t stop. While he retired from professional hockey in 1999, he has since become an avid spokesperson for arthritis awareness and has gone on to act as executive director of the Canadian men's hockey team at the 2002 Olympics, where the team earned a gold medal. And just last year at the age of 49, Gretsky was honored to be the final torchbearer during the 2010 Olympics.