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Caroline Wozniacki Reveals Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

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What happened: Tennis champion Caroline Wozniacki is used to a few aches and pains but the morning she couldn’t get out of bed she knew something was wrong. It happened one August morning in 2018 after playing a three-hour match the previous day. “I looked at my husband David and told him, ‘I literally can’t move, I’m so exhausted and in so much pain’,” the athlete told People magazine.

Rounds of blood tests and doctors’ appointments led to confirmation of a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disorder that results in stiff joints and pain. Retooling her training regimen to allow for lighter days when she needs them, an anti-inflammatory diet, more sleep, lowered stress, and regular massage allowed her to continue playing competitive tennis until her retirement in 2020.

If I feel great, perfect, we go all-out and do everything. If I don’t feel well, then I have to be a bit kinder to myself and my body and not get frustrated if I have a bad day. — Caroline Wozniacki

The Frontlines: At 30 years old Wozniacki may seem young to develop a chronic illness but RA most often begins between ages 30 and 50. It is the result of an immune response in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells.

  • Symptoms of RA include pain, aching, stiffness, tenderness or swelling in more than one joint, the same symptoms on both sides of the body, weight loss, fever, fatigue, or weakness.
  • Though there is no cure for RA treatment is incredibly effective at allowing people to live full, productive lives.
  • The goal of treatment is to improve symptoms while reducing flares through antirheumatic drugs, activities as tolerated and a variety of therapies.

A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, Melize Moolman, discussed the position everyone who deals with chronic illness finds themselves in at some point, just functioning in survival mode. “I may lose hope because my symptoms get so severe that I struggle to function. My depression may be crushing at times, but I’m alive. Survival mode means that I’m alive and thriving. Chronic illness has been my biggest challenge, but it has also been an incredible teacher. I keep on going and striving to live the best life I can live.” You can submit your first-person story, too.

Add Your Voice:

A banner promoting The Mighty's new Spoonie Life Hacks group on The Mighty mobile app. The banner reads, Make life with chronic illness a little bit easier. Join the Spoonie Life Hacks group to get tips from other spoonies for tackling everyday tasks — and share your own hacks! Click to join.

Other things to know: Dealing with RA may feel isolating but many others are also navigating life with the condition. Read here what they have learned about life, health and work:

How to take action: If you suspect RA and experience pain, swelling or aching is symmetrical (e.g. both wrists or knees) or is in more than one joint it’s time to contact the doctor. RA benefits from early diagnosis and intervention so quick response will give the best results. For more information you can turn to one of these national organizations advocating for people who live with RA.

Header image via Caroline Wozniacki/Instagram

Originally published: September 9, 2020
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