Entries in Tennis (3)


Venus Williams Withdraws from U.S. Open Due to Sjogren’s Syndrome

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Tennis star Venus Williams said Wednesday she’s  pulling out of the U.S. Open due to a disease that “causes fatigue and joint pain.”

“I have been recently diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease which is an ongoing medical condition that affects my energy level and causes fatigue and joint pain,” the two-time U.S. Open champion said in a statement.

Sjögren’s Syndrome is a chronic condition in which an individual’s disease-fighting cells attacks the moisture-producing glands in the body.

Today, as many as four million Americans are living with this autoimmune disease, according to the Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation, and the disease is far more prevalent in women.

Typical symptoms of the condition are dry eyes and dry mouth, but Sjögren’s has also been implicated in central nervous system issues, extreme fatigue, joint pain and problems with various organs.

Williams was set to play against Sabine Lisicki at the New York City event Wednesday.

On Monday, Williams beat Vesna Dolonts 6-4, 6-3.

“I enjoyed playing my first match here and wish I could continue but right now I am unable to,” Williams said in the statement.

Williams said she was disappointed she had to pull out of the tournament but added she was thankful to finally have a diagnosis and is “now focused on getting better and returning to the court soon.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tennis Pro Credits CVAC Pressure Pod for His Recent Success on Court

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Novak Djokovic's rapid launch to tennis stardom and number one ranking this summer has left many of his fans and competitors asking, "What's his secret?"

A special training routine?  A lucky jock-strap?  No -- just a spaceship-like pressurized pod that gives him super-human healing powers, according to comments made by the athlete last week.

At first, the 24-year-old Serb credited his recent sharpness on the courts to his new gluten-free diet, but last week he revealed something even more unorthodox in his arsenal to obtain athletic edge: the CVAC Pod.

"I think it really helps -- not with muscle but more with recovery after an exhausting set," he said at a sponsor event last week according to the Wall Street Journal.  "It's like a spaceship.  It's very interesting technology."

The pod may look like the bizarre synthetic egg that hatched Lady Gaga at this year's Grammy Awards, but the CVAC is being taken seriously by a number of professional athletes looking for the next big thing in performance enhancement, including Olympic cyclist John Howard and mixed-martial artist Rampage Jackson.

CVAC, short for Cyclic Variations in Adaptive Conditioning, simulates rapid changes in altitude, which reportedly stimulates the body on a cellular level, increasing oxygen absorption, promoting muscle recovery, and boosting the lymphatic system.

The concept of using altitude and pressure changes to promote better athletic performance is nothing new -- the fact that high altitudes increase the number of oxygen-transporting red blood cells in your system has been studied for years.  This is why many athletes will spend time at high altitudes during training season to increase their body's oxygen absorption, and by extension their stamina and athletic performance.

The shocking -- and controversial -- claim of the CVAC system, however, is that it accomplishes these bodily changes in just a couple of 20 minute sessions a week.

"It does between 100 and 200 pressure changes in 20 minutes," says Allen Ruszkowski, president/CEO of CVAC Systems, which makes the device.  "Typically the body requires several weeks before it adapts to altitude, but by changing the pressure in very specific patterns, we can reduce the amount of time that someone has to spend at altitude," he says.

Studies done at the University of Hawaii and Stanford University have offered support for these claims and more clinical trials are underway, according to Ruszkowski.

Dr. Benjamin Levine, a professor of medicine at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and a long-time expert in using altitude changes to enhance athletic performance, is dubious that the CVAC chamber can really do all it promises.

Levine, who directs the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian, developed the concept of "live high, train low" almost 20 years ago.  The basic idea was that living at high altitudes causes the body to adapt and produce more red blood cells, but training at that altitude is more difficult and hence limits how hard an athlete can work out -- hence the "train low," meaning that athletes would come down from high altitudes once a day to train in locations closer to sea level.

With "live high, train low" however, it takes athletes at least 12 hours of high altitude exposure each day over three to four weeks to really see the effects.

"My personal opinion is that there's absolutely no evidence that the CVAC system works.  The duration of the stimulus is way too short for your biological systems to become activated," Levine says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rafael Nadal's Risky Pain Relief at Wimbledon

Comstock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Gone are the days of secret locker room injections given on the sly to hurt athletes.  Since injuring his heel earlier this week, tennis pro Rafael Nadal has made no attempt to hide the fact that he is numbing his injury so that he can keep playing through the Wimbledon semifinals, despite the risk of further injury.

"My foot is not fine, but we are in quarter finals of Wimbledon, so it is an emergency.  I have to play," the Spanish tennis player said at a Wimbledon press conference Wednesday.  "We decided to [anesthetize] a little bit the zone of the foot to play the rest of the tournament."

Nadal slipped and hurt his foot on the court during his match against Juan Martin del Potro Monday, but this has not stopped him from advancing to the Wimbledon semifinals.

"Basically, when he twisted his foot, he put stress on the peroneal tendon on the side of your leg.  They're injecting lidocaine around the tendon to reduce the inflammation for each match so he doesn't feel the swelling," says Dr. Jennifer Solomon, an assistant attending physiatrist at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery, who also serves as a team physician for the United States Tennis Association.

Though traditional wisdom dictates that an athlete should not continue playing on this type of injury and risk doing further or permanent damage, anesthetizing the pain long enough to allow a player to finish the game, or in this case, tournament, has become a common, if sometimes clandestine, practice among some professional athletes.

"I'm surprised they're telling the public.  It's frowned upon in sports medicine in general because you can get further injury when you're not aware of what's happening in the area.  Pain is a protective sensation, and without it you might do more damage," says Dr. Lyle Micheli, director of the division of Sports Medicine at Children's Hospital in Boston.

Normally, one would use oral painkillers, lidocaine patches on the injury site and ice to get someone through a competition, he says.  Because these methods allow a player to still sense the pain, they will know not to overdo it.

Nadal, however, says, that when he's undergoing treatment, he doesn't feel anything for five hours, which makes the chance for further injury higher, according to medical experts.

"The injection itself isn't a problem, but playing through an injury when he can't feel the pain at all, he risks restressing his tendon and [that can] lead to other problems, so you have to be careful," says Solomon.

But for a professional athlete who receives excellent medical care, the risk is minimized.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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