People with rheumatoid arthritis

List of Famous People with Arthritis ranked by fame and popularity. Arthritis effects the joints and is a primary cause of disability among people over 55. In short, arthritis is caused because something goes wrong with an individual’s joints. The two main kinds of arthritis are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis. Physical therapy can help people with arthritis keep their maximum mobility.

Who is the most famous person with arthritis? Golf Legend Tiger Woods tops our list. Woods developed arthritis after having knee surgery for a torn ACL. Arthritis of the knee is a common ailment amongst golfers. Besides Woods, Phil Mickelson, Nancy Lopez and Kristy McPherson all have types of arthritis.

Actress Aida Turturro was diagnosed with arthritis at the age of 12. Turturro, who is best known for playing Tony Soprano’s sister Janice, speaks out frequently about her experience with arthritis. Other actresses with arthritis include Kathleen Turner, Lucille Ball and “Scream” star Neve Campbell. Basketball superstars and former teammates Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant both suffer from painful arthritis, as do Olympians Bruce Jenner and Wayne Gretzky.

What do you think is the best method for treating the painful symptoms of arthritis? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

5 Famous People With Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • 1

    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been around for a long time. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates described a type of arthritis that started in middle age, affected the hands and feet, and progressed rapidly. He may have been describing RA. Some famous people have had to live with the disease, many before newer drugs made managing RA easier.

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  • 2

    This four-time Golden Globe winner was a busy actress in the ’80s and early ’90s. One of her most popular roles was in the 1984 movie Romancing the Stone, co-starring Michael Douglas. In 1992 she was diagnosed with RA, and severe pain and limited movement made it nearly impossible for her to work. But new RA medications have put her disease into her remission and her career back on track.

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  • 3

    This star of stage and screen was best known for playing Auntie Mame on Broadway and in the film of the same name. A Tony award winner and Oscar nominee, Russell also received the special Oscar known as the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Unfortunately, crippling RA shortened her career. After her death, the United States Congress established the Rosalind Russell Medical Research Center for Arthritis to honor her work in raising awareness. Research goes on today due to her efforts.

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  • 4

    In 1967, South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard, MD, performed the world’s first heart transplant. Although his patient lived only 18 days, it marked the birth of a procedure that would make Dr. Barnard famous around the world and save many lives. Today thousands of heart transplants are done every year. In 1983, RA affected Dr. Barnard’s hands and ended the surgical part of his career, but he continued to teach. Dr. Barnard died in 2001 of an asthma attack.

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  • 5

    James Coburn was a classic Hollywood macho man starring in action-adventure films like The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, and the James Bond spoof Our Man Flint. Over the course of his career, he made more than 100 movies. In 1979, at the age of 51, he was diagnosed with RA. He put acting on hold while he fought the disease, but appeared in movies in the ’90s, including an Oscar-winning role in the movie Affliction. Coburn died of a heart attack in 2002.

    5. James Coburn×389%2B2%2B0/resize/580×388/quality/75/?

  • 6

    The British scientist Dorothy Hodgkin developed severe, deforming RA soon after graduating from Oxford in 1932. It did not slow her down. She went on to unravel the structure of the penicillin mold, which eventually revolutionized the treatment of infections. She also unlocked the structure of both vitamin B12 and insulin, and in between won the 1964 Nobel Prize in chemistry. She was also active in peace organizations almost until her death in 1994.

    6. Dorothy Hodgkin×389%2B2%2B0/resize/580×388/quality/75/?

Claire King reveals her daily battle with arthritis

Claire King doesn’t look like your typical arthritis sufferer but the former Emmerdale star faces a daily battle to cope with the painful condition.

And as she gets older she admits she’s becoming more worried about the future and the possibility she may face major surgery one day.

But she’s determined it won’t stop her living life to the full at the moment.

“I worry about my health deteriorating. It scares me,” Claire says.

“It feels like my whole body is falling apart. I have elderly parents and they’ve got problems too, so I want to be around to help them.

“I don’t want to be a helpless old woman who can’t do anything for anyone because all my joints are falling apart.

“That’s what motivates me to look after my health.”

She first realised something was wrong when she woke up up to a throbbing pain in her fingers, three days in a row.

Her GP diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis – an auto-immune disease that causes inflammation in the joints.

Claire, 46, best known for playing superbitch Kim Tate in Emmerdale and Karen Betts in Bad Girls, says the constant pain affected her entire life.

She said: “I was diagnosed about 13 years ago, not long after I joined Emmerdale.

“I had started getting really bad aches in my hands, feet and knees – it felt like I had been hit with a hammer.

“My doctor put me on a course of medication and gave me some advice about helpful things to try to ease the pain.

“But for a while it just carried on getting worse.

“I would get up in the morning and be hobbling like an old woman because my joints hurt so much.

“I struggled to go to work and to do the things I love, like horse-riding, because of the pressure it put on my knees.”

Rheumatoid arthritis affects one in a hundred adults in the UK and progresses differently, depending on how aggressive the condition is. In the worst cases, it seriously damages your ability to carry out everyday tasks and leaves you dependent on others.

There is cure for the condition at present but it can be managed with drugs and some simple lifestyle changes.

Claire says finding the right treatment has allowed her to live a normal life – even competing with Brendan Cole in Strictly Come Dancing three years ago.

“The medication I was prescribed after my diagnosis wasn’t very effective and after a few months I was still in a very bad way.

“My doctor suggested I try some natural products: Hellenia’s MSM tablets, Celadrin tablets and joint relief cream. They were fantastic – particularly the cream, which relieves the pain in about half an hour.

“It was great, because I could use them when I was really struggling and everything became much more manageable.

“Strictly Come Dancing was at times quite a painful experience but I really wanted to do it, and I did, with painkillers and bandages on my feet.”

Partnered with ballroom bad-boy Brendan, Claire became the ninth celebrity to leave – the longest an over 40 female contestant has ever lasted.

“I wanted to do Strictly to prove to myself and other people I could do it.

“My doctor warned me to pull out if I had any problems, but luckily it never got to that stage.

“My feet did get quite bad, but I looked after myself with lots of hot baths and foot spa treatments, so I could keep going –

though those stilettos were absolute killers.

“The thing that really annoyed me was after I mentioned my arthritis on screen, lots of people wrote online that I only said it for the sympathy vote. That made me really angry – how would they know what it’s like?”

After her stint on Strictly, Claire took her new, toned curves a step further, producing a fitness DVD aimed at older women – the Ultimate Body Workout.

The exercise has helped her arthritis.

She says: “I did the DVD because all of the ones already out seemed to be from 20-year-olds doing disco moves to lose weight.

“I wanted to bring one out for women aged 30 and over who wanted to tone up rather than drop a dress size.

“And I still do it all the time, despite my arthritis, because it helps to exercise, as long as you don’t overdo it.”

While there are several ways for people with rheumatoid arthritis to limit the damage it causes, sufferers need to look after themselves well to make sure their condition does not deteriorate.

Claire says: “I can still go horse-riding and exercise – if I can do Strictly I can probably do most things.

“And even though my feet are sometimes painful, I can still wear stilettos.

“I just buy a bigger size and put in padding.”

What is it?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease that causes inflammation of the joints – leading to painful aches and stiffness.

While the causes are not known, possible culprits include infections or viruses, diet or injury.

Symptoms can occur at any age, though they are most common in adults between 40 and 60.

Women are three times more likely to be affected than men.

While there is no cure for the disease, it can be treated effectively, allowing sufferers to live normal lives. But for this to happen, the condition must be diagnosed early.

Director of Operations at the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, Lynn Love said: “People often mistake their symptoms for general tiredness, or aches and pains.

“They will feel very tired and experience stiffness in their joints in the morning, but think it is normal.

“I would encourage anyone with these symptoms to go to their GP – the sooner the condition is diagnosed the better.”

What you can do


When you are diagnosed, your doctor should refer you to a rheumatologist, who will prescribe a course of drugs. You can also try natural remedies such as Hellenia Joint Synergy tablets and cream.


Try to stick to a heathy diet with plenty of vegetables.

Steer clear of caffeine and alcohol and reduce your salt intake. Also avoid as much processed food as possible.


A little exercise is healthy as long as you don’t overdo it. Try to do some light activities to keep you moving. If you’re not sure about fast-paced exercise try something more relaxing, like yoga.


Smoking is a big no-no for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. Puffing on a fag will make your pain more aggressive, and you are at greater danger of heart problems – as this type of arthritis also carries a cardiovascular risk.

/ to buy Claire’s Joint synergy products at hellenia health supplements. call 01765 692 299 or at

For more about rheumatoid arthritis visit or call the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society helpline free on 0800 298 7650.

7 Celebrities with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Your immune system is designed to protect your body. It helps you stay healthy and fight off bacteria and viruses. Sometimes, however, your immune system’s wires get crossed, and it starts attacking your body.

That’s what happens with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA attacks and damages joints. This leads to swelling, pain, inflammation, and possibly joint deformity.

Nearly 1.5 million people live with this condition. Women are three times more likely to have RA than men, and the average diagnosis comes between ages 30 and 60.

These seven celebrities and famous faces have all spoken publicly about how they cope and live with day-to-day RA realities.

1. Kathleen Turner

“It is important to me that people know they have options so they can get some relief from this debilitating disease,” said Kathleen Turner, a two-time Golden Globe winner for Best Actress and star of such hits as “Body Heat” and “Crimes of Passion,” to USA Today.

Her own road to an RA diagnosis has made the actress passionate about helping others understand what they may experience. Despite being young and in good shape, her body was failing her just a few years shy of her 40th birthday. For someone at their prime, it can be a challenging experience.

She was diagnosed in 1992 and underwent 12 surgeries in 12 years. Her doctors told her she’d eventually succumb to the disease and be in a wheelchair, but the actress, whose on-screen and onstage characters are often just as determined as Turner herself is in real life, wasn’t going to take this diagnosis sitting down.

She found a solution that keeps her active and moving: “Pilates, baby! Twice a week. Pilates saved my life,” the actress told The Times.

2. Camryn Manheim

Eight months came and went before actress Camryn Manheim knew what was causing her to experience sharp, stabbing pains in her hands. Her first pain came when she was using sign language to sing a song in her child’s classroom.

“I was feeling aches and pains in my hands, which was upsetting to me because I’m a sign-language interpreter — I use my hands all the time,” Manheim told People magazine. “I could hold a pen or a cup of coffee, but it was difficult. I was starting to feel fatigued too.”

Multiple tests later, and Manheim, who’s perhaps best known for her roles on “Ghost Whisperer”and “The Practice” had her answer: rheumatoid arthritis. “When told me it was rheumatoid arthritis I said that’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. I’m too young. Well, I learned I was mistaken,” she said.

The diagnosis didn’t stop her, however. Once she knew what was making her hurt, she and her doctor worked out a treatment plan, and today, she’s living a relatively normal life. “You know, the thing is you have to get the proper diagnosis and then you can get the proper treatment,” she said. “Then you can put it behind you and live a full and eventful life.”

3. Kristy McPherson

A golfer’s swing is a work of pure art. Every joint, ligament, and bone in the body is working to support the rise and fall of the golf club. If even one thing goes wrong, the swing could be a miss.

Perhaps that’s what makes Kristy McPherson’s story so inspiring. The South Carolina native LPGA golfer was diagnosed with RA at age in 11, when she was in the sixth grade.

“It seemed like the end of the world,” she told Golf Digest. “I spent months in bed, unable to walk, with a rash and a swelling in my throat that made it difficult to breathe.”

From the pain of the diagnosis came a new-found love: golf. “Getting sick was the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said. “I found a sport I loved. I don’t think I was going to make it in the WNBA. The LPGA has been wonderful.”

4. Megan Park

Her character on ABC’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” had little to hide — she was a cheerleader who didn’t shy away from the uniform’s standard short skirts and sleeveless tops. But in real life, Megan Park was hiding a secret about her body: She had been living with RA for 10 years.

“I had all the classic symptoms: extreme joint swelling, different pain, the inability to do certain things that everyone else could,” Park told People magazine in 2015. “That’s when I knew that something wasn’t right.”

When the actress made her diagnosis public, she did so to let other people living with RA know they weren’t alone.

“I actually think in a lot of ways, it’s helped me understand that everybody has plights, and it’s made me more empathetic, which I think has helped me as an artist, when I’m acting,” she said. “I think it’s opened my eyes to, everybody has a story, essentially. You may not know about it, but everybody has something.”

5. James Coburn

James Coburn, who played in popular western films like “The Magnificent Seven” and “Hell Is for Heroes,” was sidelined just as his career was getting hot because his joints were too painful to work.

“There was so much pain that … every time I stood up, I would break into a sweat,” he told ABC News.

At the time he was diagnosed, treatments weren’t as advanced as they are today. He found an alternative treatment that relieved his symptoms and stopped his pain. He was able to get back on the silver screen and maintained a fine acting career up until the day he died.

6. Aida Turturro

Most people think of arthritis as a disease for the elderly. The truth is, RA can strike at any age. For Aida Turturro, who starred on the HBO series “The Sopranos,” her diagnosis came when she was just 12.

“We were at the beach, and my father literally had to carry me to the water because my feet hurt so much,” she told USA Today.

Today the actress stays busy with television show appearances, and she’s not letting RA slow her down. “It is so important to go see a rheumatologist so you can get the right treatment,” Turturro says. “It can be frustrating to not know why you’re feeling so bad.”

7. Tatum O’Neal

In 1974, Tatum O’Neal became the youngest actress to win an Oscar. She won for the movie “Paper Moon,” in which she played one-half of a con-artist team alongside her real father, Ryan O’Neal. O’Neal went on to act in several other big movies, including“The Bad News Bears.” Her adult years were more tabloid fodder than television success, as the child star battled addiction and fought publicly with her father and her ex-husband, John McEnroe.

Later in life, she was diagnosed with RA and began speaking out about her symptoms and her treatments. In 2015, she recorded and shared a video of her undergoing a pulmonary function test after doctors realized her RA treatment was possibly damaging her lungs.

“I’ve got to get ahead of it,” she told the Arthritis Foundation. “I’ve got to! I have a young spirit and want to be able to do anything in the world that I want to do. I want a long, healthy life.”

O’Neal emphasizes the importance of having people around you who you can trust and lean on when things are hard. “I had to restructure my friends and support system,” she said. “You have to find a core group of family and friends to love you and stand by you.”

13 Celebs You Didn’t Know Were Living With Arthritis

Arthritis is an ‘umbrella’ term used to describe any condition affecting someone’s joints. Symptoms can range from joint pain to stiffness to redness, warmth, swelling and a decreased range of motion in the affected joints.

The onset of arthritis can be quick or slow depending on the type and whilst it generally only affects older people anyone can develop symptoms.

There have been over a hundred different types of Arthritis diagnosed up to date with the most common types being Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Given that there are over a hundred different types it may surprise you to learn just how many people have been diagnosed with Arthritis…

Claire King

A post shared by @anothercorrielover on May 30, 2015 at 4:06pm PDT

Claire King, famous for her roles in Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Bad Girls and Strictly Come Dancing, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 1992 whilst in her early thirties.

“My fingers and joints had been throbbing and painful for some time and a blood test confirmed rheumatoid arthritis. I was surprised and devastated in equal measure – I had a total lack of awareness and had always assumed arthritis was an older person’s disease. I live in a rural area and feared the worst: would I be able to drive myself to work? Would Emmerdale even still want me? But my GP was wonderful, filling me in with all the relevant information and helping me to control my arthritis and alleviate my pain.”

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods must be one of the best known names in golf today but what many people don’t know is that after several back injuries he developed arthritis.

In an interview he stated it started after his back surgery but how he’s now steadily trying to overcome it.

Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball was the star of the famous 50’s show I Love Lucy but what many people didn’t realise was that she lived with rheumatoid arthritis from the time she was teenager.

She was only seventeen when she was diagnosed and still trying to launch her modelling career but was one of the first and most famous celebrity supporters of the National Arthritis Foundation.

Kristy McPherson

The second golfer on our list is Kirsty McPherson who has been playing gold since she was just seven.

She was diagnosed with a rare form of arthritis, Still’s disease, when she was eleven. Initially told she’d never play golf again a Doctor who treated her encouraged to believe she could do anything she wanted to.

“All I needed was that one doctor tell me that. That’s when I went back to playing sports.”

Patrick Stewart

Image Credit: Maximilian Bühn

Possibly the most famous actor on our list, Patrick Stewart began his career with the Royal Shakespeare Company before landing hit roles such as Jean Luc Picard in Star Trek The Next Generation or Professor Xavier in the X-Men movies.

He’s spoken out recently about his support for the benefits of cannabis based medicines in alleviating the symptoms of arthritis.

He went on to say he’d used the medicines for the last two years to treat the severe orthoarthritis in both his hands.

Kathleen Turner

Image Credit: Rob Rich

Famous 80’s movie star Kathleen Turner was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 1992 and ever since has spent her time speaking publicly about RA to raise awareness of the disease in the hopes of helping others.

In her 2008 memoir Send Yourself Roses the actress said RA had torpedoed her sex life and led to her reliance on alcohol but that Pilates and other exercise and massively helped.

Shaquille O’Neal

More commonly known by his nickname Shaq, Shaquille O’Neal is a retired basketball player who’s currently working as a sports analyst on the tv show Inside The NBA.

He’s had osteoarthritis for over a decade now with the symptoms causing him a lot of pain in his size 23 feet.

Osteoarthritis is common in people at the extremes of the height spectrum so at just over 7ft Shaquille O’Neal has a lot of pressure on weight bearing joints like his ankles and knees.

Neve Campbell

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Neve Campbell is a Canadian actress best known for her portrayal of Sidney Prescott in the hit horror movie franchise Scream and has spoken publicly about the pain arthritis causes her in her neck.

James Coburn

At the height of his career, James Coburn, star of hit movies such as The Magnificent Seven was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Two decades later however he bounced back in a big way, winning Best Supporting Actor at the 71st Annual Academy Awards for his role in Affliction.

Speaking about his RA before his death in 2002 at the age of 74 he said it had

“Deformed my body and left my hand twisted. “You start to turn to stone. There was so much pain that … every time I stood up, I would break into a sweat.”

Glenn Frey

Image Credit: Jeaneeame

Glenn Frey, a founding member of the superstar rock group The Eagles had had rheumatoid arthritis for fifteen years before passing at the age of 67 in January 2016.

Wayne Gretzky

Nicknamed the Great One, Wayne Gretzky is a former professional ice hockey player and coach.

He first noticed the early symptoms of arthritis in 1999 before working on the Osteoarthritis Early Awareness Campaign.

“I didn’t think people my age had arthritis. Now I want to help others realize that arthritis pain is not restricted to the elderly and effective treatment is available.”

David Prowse

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If you don’t know the name David Prowse, don’t worry, not many do. If we told you he was the actor that played Darth Vader in all three of the original Star Wars films though you might find it easier to recognise him. David played Darth Vader on screen whilst the voice was later dubbed by James Earl Jones.

Likely due to his height, he’s battled osteoarthritis since he was thirteen. His doctors at the time suggested swimming to relieve the symptoms but David eventually settled on weight lifting, going on to win the British heavyweight championship three years in a row.

Robbie Williams

Image Credit: JJ Georges

Robbie Williams, the British superstar singer responsible for hits such as Angels and Let Me Entertain You was diagnosed with arthritis in 2016 and revealed he could no longer play football and he’d had to tone down his on stage performances.

“I’ve got arthritis in my back, so I can’t put my foot through a ball. I have very tight hamstrings, barely existent calves. I dance like a drunk dad at a wedding. But I’ve got to do something to fill the time on stage!”

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Celebrity Support

‘Being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis nearly 20 years ago was a terrifying experience. I struggled to go to work and do the things I love, like horse-riding, because of the terrible pressure it put on my knees but to anyone watching me this wouldn’t have been obvious.

I can certainly relate to this year’s theme, ‘Invisible disease’, because although my symptoms may not always show, it doesn’t mean I am not in pain or feeling exhausted.

This is why I have chosen to support NRAS during RA Awareness Week, to help raise awareness of the invisible symptoms that I and others like me, living with RA, cope with on a daily basis.’

Jo Whiley

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful condition that affects my mum, my dad and my grandmother.

Growing up, I fully appreciated the extremes of pain that some people have to go through and that is why I fully support the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society and would like to raise awareness of the symptoms during RA Awareness Week 2014.

We can’t make RA painless, but we can make it visible!

Craig Revel Horwood

‘My Mother suffered constant and exhausting pain from her severe rheumatoid arthritis, in fact it was so bad at times that she couldn’t even get out of bed. Years ago, I didn’t understand the disease or what my mother was really going through.

The fabulous NRAS works tirelessly to raise awareness of this pain and the other invisible symptoms that the 400,000 people living with RA in the UK cope with. I am delighted to be fully supporting this amazing campaign and their work to help raise awareness of this awful disease.’

Jenny Agutter

‘Despite my mother’s wish to keep her difficulties to herself, I was aware that she was suffering with terrible pain, one of the invisible symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

This is why I want to support RA Awareness Week, to help NRAS raise awareness of the extreme pain, fatigue and stiffness that so many people living with this long term condition have to cope with on a daily basis and to highlight the excellent work that they do.’

caption Celebrities have opened up about managing their Rheumatoid arthritis. source Getty Images

  • Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that leads to painful swelling and deformities of the joints.
  • According to the Healthline, an estimated 1.3 million Americans have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis – some of whom you may recognize.
  • From Megan Park to Golnesa “GG” Gharachedaghi, here are famous people who’re living with rheumatoid arthritis.

Though some celebrities tend to keep their health matters private, many come forward after difficult diagnoses in an effort to spread awareness and relate to the millions of people living with debilitating conditions.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is no different. This chronic inflammatory disorder develops when the immune system begins to attack the body’s tissues, resulting in painful joint swelling, deformities, fatigue, fevers, and weight loss.

RA can impact day-to-day living, making it difficult to perform even the most basic activities like brushing your hair or texting. These professional athletes, actors, performers, and television stars have opened up about what it’s like to have RA.

Here are celebrities you didn’t know had RA:

Golnesa “GG” Gharachedaghi was diagnosed at 27 when she noticed symptoms.

caption GG told Everyday Health cannabis helped with her RA. source Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for The Brent Shapiro Foundation

We all know GG as the reality star of Bravo’s “Shahs of Sunset.”

According to Everyday Health, GG developed RA when she was 27 after her hands would swell, turn blue, and go numb during her sleep. After seeking treatment from several rheumatologists, GG has found cannabis to significantly reduce her pain and help her sleep.

“For the last six months, I have been using cannabis, and there are some non-psychoactive strains that have eased my pain significantly.”

Megan Park said she makes sure to rest a lot when she has a job to do.

caption Park talked to People magazine about her RA. source Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Park never let her RA get in the way of her ability to do her job, even as the role of a conservative cheerleader in ABC’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.”

“When I’m at work, I’m hunkering down and making sure I get lots of rest,” Park told People magazine. “I’m making that sure that I’m not doing anything in my off time that’s going to aggravate my joints.”

Aida Turturro has been managing her RA since she was 12.

caption Tuturro said she had foot pain before being diagnosed. source Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for FIJI Water

RA is not reserved for the elderly, as actress Aida Tuturro experienced. The “Sopranos” star was diagnosed with RA when she was just 12 years old.

“We were at the beach, and my father literally had to carry me to the water because my feet hurt so much,” she told USA Today. Today, she said she focuses on getting the right treatment and managing her symptoms for optimal relief.

James Coburn sought holistic treatment before continuing his career.

caption Coburn’s RA began right as his career was beginning. source Darren McCollester/Getty Images

“The Magnificent Seven” and “Hell Is for Heroes” star developed RA just as his career was taking off.

“There was so much pain that … every time I stood up, I would break into a sweat,” he told ABC News. He has to step back from his work and really learn how to manage his pain. Once he got the right treatment Coburn said he was back in the spotlight and ready to continue his successful career.

Kathleen Turner underwent 12 surgeries in 12 years.

caption Turner said she learned to manage the pain. source Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

After receiving an RA diagnosis in 1992, two-time Golden Globe winner Kathleen Turner had a long struggle with disorder and underwent 12 surgeries in 12 years, according to the Daily Mail.

Through this journey she learned how to manage her pain and made it her mission to spread awareness about the ways you can treat RA. “It is important to me that people know they have options so they can get some relief from this debilitating disease,” Turner told USA Today.

Caroline Wozniacki said she stayed positive despite her diagnosis.

caption Wozniacki was diagnosed after the Australia Open. source Getty Images

Wozniacki was diagnosed with RA just a few months after securing the Australian Open, but she stands as confident and determined as ever.

“I’m very proud of how I’ve been so positive through it all and just try not to let that hinder me,” she told Everyday Health. “I’m happy that I’m done with the season, so that I can control it a little bit more, and figure out a plan how to control it even better in the future.”

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

5 Famous People With Rheumatoid Arthritis [And How They Cope]

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has affected famous people with varying degrees of severity. Evidence of RA appears in acclaimed artwork throughout history.

And more recently, famous people with RA are documented online in health and medical websites. Most of these celebrities and famous artistic subjects have not craved the spotlight due to their rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis.

However, a few in recent times have become advocates for the potentially debilitating condition.

Famous Historical Depictions Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Interestingly, the first documented case of RA wasn’t until the 1800s. Over the years, scientists have debated whether or not rheumatoid arthritis is a modern era condition.

The current hypothesis states that RA has been around for a long time.

RA is not a disease of recent origin, and was both present and problematic hundreds, possibly thousands of years ago, potentially with a geographic distribution distinct from its current profile. -National Institutes of Health, Historical Perspective on the Etiology of Rheumatoid Arthritis

For example, there are possible artistic evidences of RA during the Renaissance Period. In Sandro Botticelli’s, Portrait of a Youth, 1482-1485, the hand is painted with swelling of the wrist and a deformed finger joint.

Experts debate whether or not paintings like Portrait of a Youth depict rheumatoid arthritis. However, the general consensus is that RA has been around for at least hundreds of years.

Portrait of a Youth, Sandro Botticelli, 1482-1485, possible evidence of RA

5 (More Recent) Famous People With Rheumatoid Arthritis

1. Kristy McPherson

Born in Conway, South Carolina in 1981, Kristy McPherson is a famous golfer. Since graduating college, McPherson has participated in numerous golf tours, such as the Futures and LGPA.

At the age of 11, she was diagnosed with Still’s Disease, a form of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Riddled with pain during childhood and confined to a bed at times, it was a scary time.

Thankfully, she found an excellent rheumatologist who encouraged her to lead an active lifestyle.

Getting sick when I was 11 was one of the best things that ever happened to me…

It’s the only reason that I play golf now… It lead to me playing high school golf and receiving a college scholarship and playing golf professionally… It’s a blessing in disguise. -Kristy McPerson, For The Record, The Golf Channel

McPherson works diligently to manage her pain and inflammation. Her active lifestyle is impressive and includes golfing, biking, weightlifting and walking. And, she devotes her time to arthritis research.

2. Lucille Ball

As a teenager, the delightful comedienne was an aspiring model. Excruciating leg pain and flareups kept her from walking and sidelined her modeling career.

Doctors diagnosed her with rheumatoid arthritis. Once her pain was controlled, Ball moved to Hollywood and became known affectionately as, “The First Lady Of Television”.

One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself. -Lucille Ball

While Ball did not often speak publicly about her arthritis, she was a supporter of the Arthritis Foundation until her death in 1989.

3. James Coburn

While about 67% of those diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis are women, men are affected as well. Even manly movie actors, like James Coburn. Coburn came onto the movie scene in the 60s and 70s.

He was famous for his tough-guy roles in films like, The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven. During the 1980s, at the age of 51, a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis kept him away from his acting career.

Coburn was candid about the pain RA caused.

You start to turn to stone… There was so much pain that … every time I stood up, I would break into a sweat. -James Coburn, ABC News interview, 1999

After about two decades of searching for relief for his RA, including holistic approaches, Coburn returned to the screen.

He maintained an active film presence later in life, including winning an Academy Award in 1998 for Affliction.

4. Kathleen Turner

One of the most famous and adored stars in the 1980s, Turner played sultry, determined characters in films like, Body Heat, Romancing The Stone and The War Of The Roses.

In the early 1990s, she began to experience perplexing chronic pain. After numerous visits to doctors and misdiagnoses, tests finally confirmed she had rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 39.

Since then, Turner has become an advocate for those suffering from RA. In 2008, she released a memoir, Send Yourself Roses: My Thoughts On Life, Love and Leading Roles.

In it, she details how rheumatoid arthritis impacted her life tremendously.

It is important to me that people know they have options so they can get some relief from this debilitating disease. -Kathleen Turner, interview with the Arthritis Foundation

5. Aida Turturro

At 12 years old, Aida Turturro experienced agonizing pain and was diagnosed with RA. Rheumatoid arthritis didn’t slow her down.

She went on to star in the critically-acclaimed HBO series, The Sopranos, earning Emmy nominations for her role as, Janice.

Turturro has actively advocated for those with RA. In 2000, she helped introduce the, Joint Effort Against Rheumatoid Arthritis, campaign.

I have gone through tremendous, sometimes debilitating pain, but I feel like I’m winning the battle every time I face the disease head-on.

I want to encourage others to get the information they need so they can live fulfilling lives despite this disease. -Aida Turturro, spokesperson, Joint Effort Against Rheumatoid Arthritis

What We Can Learn

The experiences and symptoms rheumatoid arthritis provides is as unique as each person who is diagnosed with it. While joint inflammation is the hallmark of RA, your personal story is unparalleled.

The takeaway from famous people with RA is that your life doesn’t need to be defined by it. Stay informed, find excellent resources, including a rheumatologist, and push forward.

People remember her as the queen of comedy. Lucille Ball lightened the hearts of millions with her charming humor and quirky style. Portraying the wife of Desi Arnez on the television show “I Love Lucy”, she had physical comedy down to a science of seamless follies. Sometimes referred to as clumsy, Lucille Ball never showed any physical limitations impeding her ability to raise a smile, chuckle or laugh. That is why it is so hard to believe that she had rheumatoid arthritis, or so the rumor goes. Did Lucile Ball have rheumatoid arthritis or not? You be the judge.

According to some uncorroborated sources, Lucille Ball was stricken with an acute attack of “rheumatoid arthritis” at the age of 17 in 1928 while working as a Hattie Carnegie model. She reportedly was feeling ill and feverish with possibly pneumonia when severe, sudden leg pains began. During that day and age, medicine was not very far advanced. In fact, the test for rheumatoid factor would not be discovered for another 12 years. Lucille went to doctors and according to the rumors was told that she had “rheumatoid arthritis”. After three years of convalescing with her parents, she was able to return to her pursuit of acting and fame. In no other time in her life is there any documented evidence of joint pain. She died in 1989 at the age of 78 with none of the obvious joint deformities that usually reflect the progressive nature of rheumatoid arthritis. So either Lucille Ball was the luckiest person with rheumatoid arthritis or she did not have rheumatoid arthritis at all.

Maybe she was lucky to have a rare type of rheumatoid arthritis that has been described to affect less than one percent of the rheumatoid population. People with this mild form of RA do not show any signs of progressive joint damage and are less likely to be positive for rheumatoid factor. With today’s modern medicine, the natural history of rheumatoid arthritis is better understood to be related to certain immune proteins and genetic factors. But back in the days of Lucille Ball’s early adulthood when she experienced severe leg pains, it could have been any doctor’s guess what was actually ailing her without today’s modern diagnostic testing. She could have had reactive arthritis or post-infectious arthritis. Or maybe she was told that she actually had rheumatic fever and over time that diagnosis got distorted into “rheumatoid arthritis”. Rheumatic fever can cause a sudden onset of fevers, malaise, joint pain and weakness in young people much like what happened to Lucille Ball. Such an acute onset is atypical of RA which usually has a more insidious onset. Just based on some brief description of Lucille Ball’s early life and this particular incident, rheumatic fever seems like a more likely diagnosis than rheumatoid arthritis. So, did Lucille Ball have a rare type of rheumatoid arthritis that showed no sign of progression after an initial attack? Or did she have a common childhood disease that afflicted many in the 1920’s? You be the judge.

Either way she was lucky; lucky to have a mild rare form of rheumatoid arthritis or lucky to have survived a childhood disease. Her highly successful career would not have been possible without a little luck, although she was not one to admit that. When asked about luck, she said, “I don’t know anything about luck; I’ve never banked on it. Luck to me is: hard work.” She was luckier than she realized. Hard work and luck paid off for Lucille Ball. However, her life probably would not have been so fortunate if she had the same disease that afflicted Renoir-rheumatoid arthritis.

Famous People with Arthritis

Arthritis Today, “Dorothy Hamill” IMDB, “James Coburn” ABC News, “Holistic Treatment Relieved Coburn’s Pain” USA Today, “Darth Vader battles ‘dark side’ of arthritis” The Telegraph, “A new portrait of Edith Piaf” Wikipedia, “Christiaan Barnard” People, “His Hands Stiffened by Arthritis, Christiaan Barnard Explores a Second Career in Television” dailyRx, “Osteoarthritis” MSN, “Living Well With Osteoarthritis” Grantland, “Why Did Kobe Go to Germany?” The Atlantic, “An Arthritis Treatment Worthy of the Pope and Kobe” Wikipedia, “Lucille Ball” dailyRx News, “Rheumatoid Arthritis” Golf, “Phil Mickelson’s win with psoriatic arthritis made me appreciate him all the more” dailyRx News, “Psoriatic Arthritis” Wikipedia, “Kathleen Turner” Wikipedia, “Pierre-Auguste Renoir” dailyRx, “Arthritic Athletes Still Active” Look to the Stars, “Wayne Gretzky” About, “The Wayne Gretzky Record Book” National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, “Ryan, Nolan” Active, “Nolan Ryan, a marvel on the mound, still knows it takes work” Smithsonian, “Hank Aaron”Courtesy of Kentannenbaum | DreamstimeBy PostCardGalleryBy NBC Television, via Wikimedia CommonsBy Nihonjoe, via Wikimedia CommonsBy General Electric Theater, via Wikimedia CommonsBy Nationaal Archief, via Wikimedia CommonsBy Eric Koch / Anefo (Nationaal Archief), via Wikimedia CommonsBy Keith Allison, via Wikimedia CommonsBy Keith Allison, via Wikimedia CommonsBy Macfadden Publications, via Wikimedia CommonsCourtesy of David Leindecker | Dreamstime Courtesy of Featureflash | Dreamstime By Pierre-Auguste Renoir, via Wikimedia Commons Courtesy of Imagecollect | Dreamstime Chuck Andersen Chris Evans

7 Famous People with Rheumatoid Arthritis You Never Thought About

Kristina DavidovaFollow Feb 6, 2018 · 5 min read

Awhile back we were discussing arthritis with the FindMeCure team and I was like “Can you believe Renoir had arthritis?!”. Apparently, I was the last one in on it, as everybody else I had mentioned it to already knew. It was shock to me though — I like Renoir’s work but I had never read anything about him as a person and to find out that at the end of his life his arthritis was so bad, he had to tie the brush to his hand to keep on painting added a whole new dimension to his artistic heritage.

It got me thinking, that’s what all of you do. You may not be artists but you, like Renoir, persist through the pain and keep on going about your lives day in, day out. So, today instead of talking about all of the clinical trials looking for a cure or at least a potent enough pain-reliever, we’re going to talk famous people with arthritis, as I believe they can be a good source of motivation and inspiration. Firstly, even though it’s not known how old RA is, the first reported cases go as far back as the late 19th century. So no Cleopatra here on the list, however there are some femme fatales who lived with RA in the 20th century like…

Edith Piaf It’s believed that her severe RA is part of the reason the chanteuse was addicted to morphine and had alcohol problems. Her struggle with the disease started in her 30s and it’s depicted in the 2007 movie about her life, La Vie en Rose.

Rosalind Russell, as in Rosalind Russell Medical Research Center for Arthritis in SF, was an actress (“Gypsy”, “His Girl Friday”, “A Woman of Distinction”), whose severe RA forced her to retire from acting. She claimed her cortisone treatment caused “chipmunk cheeks” but nevertheless she kept showing up with her head held high and dedicated the rest of her life to raising RA awareness. Hence, the Medical Research Center in her honor.

Lucille Ball, another actress on the list. Famous for “I Love Lucy” (1951–1957) Lucille Ball was diagnosed with RA in her late teens when she was trying to become a model. The diagnosis however is questioned by some, as blood tests for RA would be developed years later. Lucille Ball overcame her severe leg pain which kept her from walking and
eventually made her way as a Hollywood actress.

Peter Paul Rubens. Surprisingly, it is believed by some that the 17th century painter had might have had RA which would make the disease older than previously thought. It might be pure speculation as some of the evidence for the “diagnosis” comes from his paintings — it appears the hands of the people in his last 30 years worth of work show the swelling and deformity characteristic of RA.

James Coburn, the famous actor from your favorite 60s and 70s Westerns, also had RA. In fact, this is the reason he retired from acting in the 80s. That is until the 90s when he won an Oscar for his role in “Affliction”. Coburn claimed that a holistic approach as well as a drug called MSM cured his RA. (Just so you know, MSM is advertised as a “miracle supplement”, which already got me suspicious, so… don’t get adventurous and as always, consult your doctor before trying anything.)

Megan Park who played cheerleader Grace Bowman on “The Secret Life of The American Teenager” has been living with RA since she was a teenager herself. In 2015 she went public about it and she has told People magazine that she had “classic symptoms” like pain and joint swelling.

Kristy McPherson, a pro-golfer was diagnosed with Still’s disease, which is a form of arthritis, and was first told by doctors to forget about sports. However, rheumatologist who treated her later told her that she can do whatever she wanted even with arthritis as part of her life — that’s when she went back to sports.

Here they are — 7 famous people, whose arthritis diagnosis didn’t keep them from living their lives, starring in movies, making songs, painting and playing golf. Although RA cannot be dated back in time, we look to the future for its cure. And if you want to take researchers one step closer to finding the cure or you hope to find a better treatment for yourself, check out the clinical trials our database comes up with!

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