As a professional basketball player, Bill Russell encountered very few opponents who could stop him or his team. With 11 NBA World Championships, two NCAA championships, and an Olympic gold medal, Russell owns more titles than any other individual who has played one of the four major team sports. In life, Bill Russell suffered quietly with arthritis pain for more than 40 years. Now he's found a way to beat that, too.
At age 67, Russell now says he's had symptoms of arthritis since his playing days, which ended in 1969. It wasn't until he saw his doctor in 1999 "that I was able to get back to doing the things I love to do, like playing golf, traveling, and taking long walks," says Russell. Now he helps educate people about arthritis with the "B.E.A.T. Arthritis" campaign (Boost Education on Arthritis Treatment).
Arthritis affects more than 43 million people, or one in six Americans. Seven million of those people suffer badly enough to have their daily activities limited. Despite those numbers, there are others who don't seek treatment for joint aches and pains.
The point is, there are treatments available--if people ask their doctors for help. Pain, stiffness, and swelling in or around a joint are a possible warning sign that you may have arthritis according to the Arthritis Foundation. A recent survey, sponsored by Pharmacia & Pfizer (co-promoters of the drug Celebrex, which Russell has used), suggested that although many Americans ages 40 and older suffer from joint pain, they tend to downplay this pain rather than consult a physician to seek effective treatment.
The survey also found:
- 71% of people ages 40 and older who suffer from joint pain and consulted a physician were diagnosed with arthritis.
- One-third of people ages 40 and older who experience joint pain have not sought diagnosis or treatment.
- 86% of those 40 and older experiencing joint pain find their ability to participate in recreational sports limited.
- 40% of those 40 and older with joint pain find their ability to travel comfortably on a regular basis has been limited.
Bill Russell is one of those who hesitated before taking his case to a physician, "Personally, I had a difficult time going to the doctor with my symptoms. I was hesitant to admit that I couldn't do the things I enjoyed without joint aches and pains. I just felt like it was something I could deal with on my own."
With osteoarthritis limiting his daily activities, Russell got a recommendation from his physician to try Celebrexa Cox-2 specific inhibitor in December 1999. With the help of treatment, Russell is now able to keep up his active travel and speaking schedule. And he plays golf several times a week.
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