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Phil Mickelson makes Arthritis Announcement

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In a stunning announcement, San Diego’s own, Phil Mickelson revealed Tuesday he has psoriatic arthritis, which causes his immune system to attack his joints and tendons. Mickelson is being treated for arthritis that surfaced just before the U.S. Open and left him in so much pain he couldn’t walk, first noticing symptoms five days before the U.S. Open.

The pain eventually got so bad he made a visit to the Mayo Clinic to receive the diagnosis and treatment. Mickelson said weekly shots have brought the disease under control, and there shouldn’t be any negative impact on health, either long or short term.

”I’m surprised at how quickly it’s gone away, and how quickly it’s been able to be managed and controlled,” he said. ”I feel 100 percent, like I say. But when I (was) laying there on the couch and I (couldn’t) move, yeah, I had some concerns. But I feel a lot better now.”

Mickelson, who turned 40 in June, said he woke up five days before the U.S. Open with ”intense pain” in his tendons and joints that left him unable to move and his joints feeling sprained. Stretching, walking and anti-inflammatory drugs alleviated the pain, and he went ahead and played the tournament (at Pebble Beach), where he wound up tied for fourth.

The condition got progressively worse spreading to his knees, hips and elbows during the U.S. Open and a family vacation to Hawaii afterward and clearly got Mickelson’s undivided attention. ”That’s when I got concerned,” he said. ”I certainly had the gamut of thoughts. … I would just lay down and I couldn’t roll over. I was concerned about being able to swing a club and so forth.”

It was after the British Open that doctors confirmed the diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. Mickelson immediately began receiving weekly shots of the drug, Enbrel, meant to lower his immune system. Mickelson said the difference was noticeable almost immediately. ”I feel great now and things have been much, much better,” he said. ”I’ll probably take this drug for about a year, and feel 100 percent. I’ll stop it and see if it goes into remission and it may never come back. It may be gone forever.” ”It’s not that it’s cured, but it may never come back,” he added. ”Or if it does come back, I’ll start the treatment again and should be able to live a normal life without having any adverse effects. So I’m not very concerned about it.”

Mickelson went on to say the arthritis didn’t affect his play at the U.S. Open or British Open, in neither of which was he much of a factor. But he did say that he had only begun to resume his regular practice routine last week. ”First of all, I don’t want excuses. And second, I don’t want to discuss something when I don’t know what the outcome is going to be,” Mickelson said. ”For five or six weeks, I was a little unsure of how this was going to affect me long term. Now that I feel confident it’s not going to affect not only the rest of my career or the rest of my life, but even in the short term it shouldn’t have an effect, I feel a lot better about it and I’m a lot more at ease to discuss it.”

While making the announcement regarding his health, Mickelson provided yet another surprise; he’s now a vegetarian. ”I know, I know,” he said as reporters laughed. ”As long as I believe that there’s a possibility that it will help me overall, yeah, I’ll continue to do that. If it will somehow keep this in remission or stop it from coming back, yeah, I’ll be able to do it. But I haven’t put it to the real test.”

Images courtesy of SN#1 and chispita_666 via flickr

1 Comment

  1. Phoebe Bobet

    February 2, 2011 at 5:25 am

    Hello.This post was really interesting, particularly since I was looking for thoughts on this issue last Sunday.

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