Maurice Cheeks has gout, and he did an interview to explain the conditions he faces and give people an opportunity to better understand the disorder. Matt Schneiderman of Everyday Health (hat tip: Bill Shea of Crain’s Detroit Business):
He was suffering from an acute attack of gout, a type of arthritis. Gout is caused by an accumulation of sodium urate crystals in the joints that occurs when there is an abnormally high level of uric acid in the body. Long associated with status and wealth — the condition used to be called “the disease of kings” — gout is actually the most common type of inflammatory arthritis in men over 40. Though it typically affects the large joint of the big toe, gout can also strike the instep, ankles, heels, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows, resulting in sudden and sharp pain, tenderness, redness, stiffness, and swelling. The pain can be excruciating: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most painful, most gout patients rate an attack as at least a 9 — on a par with childbirth or a long bone fracture. Often linked to high blood pressure and heart disease, gout can be managed with diet and lifestyle adjustments and controlled with medications. Monitoring and treatment diminish the chances of painful attacks and long-term joint damage.
EverydayHealth: And you experienced more attacks?
Maurice Cheeks: When I left Portland for Philadelphia I had another bout, but it wasn’t as severe as the first. But earlier this year, I had another attack. The swelling was so severe that I couldn’t get my shoe on, so I was coaching from the sidelines wearing just one shoe. I put on quite a show, coaching the next five games without a shoe on!
EverydayHealth: What did you tell your players who asked you about it?
Maurice Cheeks: The players thought I got hurt playing, and I had no time to explain gout to them. They didn’t know the severity of my condition because I had never told them about it.
EverydayHealth: Did you face any misperceptions coming from them or from reporters?
Maurice Cheeks: I was asked about it a lot. There’s a humorous aspect to gout, and there was an assumption that I had brought it on myself. A lot of people laughed, seeing me on the sidelines without my shoe on. But it’s not a laughing matter. It’s a very serious problem with long-term effects. And it is very, very painful. I cannot adequately express the pain.
Good for Cheeks for sharing his story, no doubt informative and inspiring to those who are dealing with similar issues.
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