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Psoriatic arthritis: Phil Mickelson among those with little-known disease

phil mickelson
Psoriatic arthritis affects an estimated 600,000 Americans, including pro golfer Phil Mickelson - shown here hitting a tee shot at a tournament in Pacific Palisades, Calif. on February 17, 2011. Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

CBS) Pro golfer Phil Mickelson knows a thing or two about pain and stiffness - and not just because he spends so much time swinging a club.

Mickelson says he has psoriatic arthritis, a potentially disabling form of arthritis that affects about 600,000 Americans, according to statistics from the National Psoriasis Foundation and the Arthritis Foundation.

On a new website created to raise awareness of psoriatic arthritis, Mickelson says he was diagnosed with the condition a week after the 2010 U.S. Open. He says he had been experiencing severe pain near the ankle, as well as in the left index finger and right wrist.

"At first, I thought these aches could be caused by years of practicing and playing golf and that they would eventually pass," Mickelson says on the On Course with Phil website. "Then, after two days of preparing for the U.S. Open, I awoke and the pain in my joints was so intense I could hardly get out of bed."

Severe pain is one symptom of psoriatric arthritis, along with stiffness and swelling in the joints. In addition, many people with the condition experience skin lesions similar to those seen in patients with psoriasis.

The condition - believed to be caused by an overactive immune system - usually develops between the ages of 30 and 50 but can develop at any age, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. It's commonly treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin, as well as with more powerful prescription drugs known as disease-modifying anthrheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and newer drugs like Enbrel and Remicade.

As for Mickelson, psoriatic arthritis hasn't put him off his game. With treatment, he says, "I've continued to play golf and have been able to keep doing fun things with my family, like playing catch or going for a swim or a hike. I feel good again!"

Michelson's website is sponsored by the National Psoriasis Foundation and the Arthritis Foundation, along with drug makers Amgen and Pfizer.

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