Living with improperly managed arthritis can be difficult, resulting in depression and other mental health issues for some. For others, it can even put their livelihood at risk. No one know this better than eight-time PGA Tour winner Mike Weir.

The Canadian golf icon injured his elbow in 2010, when his club hit a tree root at the Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina. Since then, he has been dealing with pain and stiffness from trauma-related arthritis. As a professional athlete, an inability to move his arm the way he was used to has been a serious problem. “It’s very hard when you’re used to being able to do something and then you can’t do it anymore,” says Weir. “There were some times where I thought my career was in jeopardy, and it has definitely altered the course of my career. There’s no doubt about it.”

"You might not see the physical signs... but inside someone can really be hurting. It’s a really difficult condition to live with sometimes.”

Staying strong

A soft-spoken man from Sarnia, Ontario, Weir has spent the last five years tirelessly tending to his recovery while also making time to advocate for those with arthritis and other sources of chronic pain. It’s a condition that is all too often invisible, and thus hard for others to empathize with. “You might not see the physical signs,” says Weir, “but inside someone can really be hurting. It’s a really difficult condition to live with sometimes.”

In Weir’s journey to conquer his own pain and return to competing at the top echelon of the golf world, he has undergone surgery and built a personalized therapeutic regimen that includes medication, therapy, and massage among other components. In addition to physical therapy, analgesics like ibuprofen go a long way towards relieving pain and reducing swelling, however a multifaceted approach to managing pain is required to remain limber and strong. “I still go to physical therapy,” says Weir. “I do a lot of self massage. I do a lot of isometric training with my hand and wrist and forearm. There are a lot of things I have to do to keep on top of it, otherwise I get very sore and stiff.”

Managing arthritis pain is a lifelong voyage, but Weir is adamant that, while it’s a challenge, it need not be a barrier. He’s planning his return to professional play and is optimistic for what the future holds. “I hope to keep building my game back up,” says Weir. “It’s a performance-based business, so I just hope to get off to a good start when I get back out there.”