Psoriatic Arthritis Sufferer, Phil Mickelson, PGA Champ
Phil Mickelson Golfing
Mickelson Announces Diagnosis Psoriatic Arthritis
Phil Mickelson, who just turned 40, was recently diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, which is a painful arthritic autoimmune disease. As one of the best PGA golfers this disease could obviously impact his game in a major way. His life has been rough over the past year or two as his wife and mother are both fighting breast cancer.
Mickelson is close to replacing Tiger Woods as the #1 golfer, and hopefully this disease won’t be a set back in his golf results, which he has worked hard to earn. He announced a few days ago his diagnosis describing how it began. It was five days before the US Open when he woke up in intense pain in his tendons and joints which left him unable to move.
The treatment initially was stretches, walking and anti-inflammatory drugs alleviated the pain. He did mange to play golf at Pebble Beach coming in fourth. Phil finally discusses his psoriatic arthritis in Arthritis Today. Phil's knees and hips ached, and his shoulder hurt so much he could not lift his arm above his head.
He stated" There were was a lot of uncertainty, I was pretty worried. I didn't know about the long-term future; I didn't know where my immediate future held. The mind tends to wander. Mine certainly did."
Phil Mickelson Announcement
Phil Went to Mayo Clinic for Help
However, his condition continued to progress spreading to his knees, hips and elbows. After the tournament he made a trip to the Mayo Clinic where the diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis was confirmed, and he was placed on a medication often used in Rheumatoid arthritis called Enbrel. This drug depresses the immune system and has been very effective in treating Mickelson’s symptoms
How Joint Damage Works
Psoriatic arthritis typically occurs in your 40’s to 50’s and is linked with psoriasis. The skin disease precedes the joint disease in 80% of the patients, but the arthritis may precede the psoriasis in 15% of the population for up to 20 years.
As most autoimmune diseases there is no cure, just treatment for the symptoms. Phil chose to change to a vegetarian diet with this diagnosis to see if that would help which was surprising to some as he was a bit of a burger connoisseur.
Symptoms of this disease include:
- Swelling of an entire finger or toe, to the size of a sausage
- General stiffness and joint pain
- Swollen joints
- Back pain, plus stiffness anywhere from the neck to lower back
- Raised red patches, often with a silvery scale known as a psoriatic skin lesion
- Changes in the finger and to nails with pitting is seen in 90% of psoriatic arthritis patients.
The medication Enbrel which seems to be giving up much relief treats both skin and joint symptoms. It is a medication which is self injected and it works on the immune system to slow the growth of excess skin cells and to reduce joint pain. Like any medication that suppresses your immune system the patient is more susceptible to infections which is always a concern.
In his Arthritis Today article Bill confessed it'd been a tough couple of years after he learned of his psoriatic arthritis, and he has been living with the emotional stress of his wife's breast breast cancer. His wife, Amy, took on her illness in a way that was inspiring to Phil which sparked him to take on his disease without delay. He learned it was important for him to start treatment without delay to avoid permanent damage to his joints. Severe stress can be a trigger for psoriatic arthritis but it isn't the cause.
This arthritis has a genetic component and now he knows he probably had it in a dormant state for many years. He thought that he just had normal aches and pains of an athlete as he was getting older. There was one other thing which was an occasional flaky, itchy scalp that he didn't really think much about. However, the pain and itchy scalp are both telltale signs of psoriatic arthritis that flared for Phil the first time the week before the U.S. Open last June, 2010. He played in excruciating pain to that tournament. Four days later the family went to Hawaii and his pain at night was so debilitating he could hardly move.
He stated," I didn't know arthritis could be that debilitating." After he sought treatment at the Mayo Clinic his condition improved enough for he could pick up a golf club and play again. He stated," I like where I am physically and in a and am optimistic about 2011". He is aware that his condition is going to be a part of his life from here on but it least it is treatable. His doctor, Dr. Matteson, states they are hoping for remission – not a cure – which is the right goal for now.
The Mickelson family has certainly suffered more than their fair share of health problems over the past couple of years. Apparently the prognosis for the women is good as they go through treatment. I would wonder if the stress of having two people he dearly loves fighting cancer, not to mention playing golf in front of millions of fans, might have had an impact on him getting this disease at this time.
We wish the best for Phil Mickelson and his family.
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