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  Arthritis

March 2010
The Pain of Being a Celebrity
Smiti Munwani
 
Arthritis spares no man or woman. Not even celebrities.. Not much is known about the current Bollywood celebrities who suffer from arthritis. Even if a star has arthritis, be sure he or she is not going to announce it from the rooftops
 
There are more than a hundred different types of arthritis and the disease affects millions of people worldwide, some more than others. Some get crippled by it and are unable to lead a normal life while others can get by with the help of medicines, surgery or other medical interventions.

Among the best-known who have suffered from orthopaedic problems is former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He has osteoarthritis in his knees, which has affected his walking and ability to stand for long periods of time. Former HRD Minister Arjun Singh too has arthritis and is unable to walk without the aid of a stick, and is mostly seen on a wheelchair these days.

And speaking of wheelchairs, Indian silver screen’s veteran filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee had to direct two of his movies Asli Naqli and Anupama from his wheelchair because of arthritis, in the 60s. He died in 2006, surgery in both knees and more than 50 films (including Anand, Chupke Chupke, Abhimaan and Namak Haraam) later.

However, not much is known about the current Bollywood celebrities who suffer from arthritis. Shah Rukh Khan’s surgery after he hurt his shoulder during the shooting of Dulha Mil Gaya is well known. So is Sunny Deol’s severe back problem and Amitabh Bachchan’s frequent physical ailments. But arthiritis? Perish the thought. Even if a star has it, be sure he or she is not going to announce it from the rooftops.

The Turner Case
In Hollywood, however, there is more openness about the disease. An A-list superstar, Kathleen Turner (The War of the Roses, Wish You Were Here) has been battling Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), which has attacked all her joints. After a long time, she received a confirmed diagnosis of RA, and was put on a cocktail of medications, including cortisone. Finally she turned to alcohol, instead of painkillers, but she knew the relief was only temporary.

Eventually, thanks to a doctor friend who put her on newer medications, she also started swimming to get the blood flowing and encourage movement in the joints, and to use lightweights to build up her muscles and take pressure off the joints. She works out frequently to keep her muscles strong, which in turn eases the joint pain. “The stronger my muscles are, the less stress on the joints, and they keep functioning,” says Turner. She also takes part in fund raising and other activities to raise awareness about this crippling disease. The superstar of the fifties and sixties era comedienne Lucille Ball (I Love Lucy) too battled Rheumatoid Arthritis for long periods of time. Though she was plagued by the problem most of her life she never let it affect her skyrocketing career as the best comedienne of the small screen.

No Age Bar for Arthritis
Dave Prowse – the actor best known for his portrayal of Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies – has been suffering from osteoarthritis since he was 13 years old. He suffered from a rare form of juvenile arthritis and was prescribed exercise. His doctors advised swimming, but he did not like swimming. Instead he took to bodybuilding: in 1960 he took part in the Mr. Universe contest and two years later he won the British championship of heavyweight lifting! Thanks to the intense weight training, his osteoarthritis disappeared. In 1990, however, the disease returned and he had to have the first of many hip replacement surgeries.

Albert Belle, an American Baseball star, made millions and in 1998 signed a fiveyear $65 million ($83,115,608 in current dollar terms) deal with the Baltimore Orioles. He played for some time with the pain, till he could not bear it anymore. Two years later he was forced to retire because of severe degenerative arthritis in his hip at the age of 34. He is currently using painkillers.

Diseases don’t differentiate between the common man and celebrities. And since each case of arthritic pain is different, its cure and treatment has to be handled by an expert. In no case should it be ignored or taken lightly. Like in most treatments, in this case too, a cooperative patient gets healed fastest!
 

    
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