Pope slowly losing ability to walk
The Pope is suffering from a degenerative condition in the joints of his legs which makes it painful for him to walk, according to Vatican insiders. The onset of arthrosis means 84-year-old Benedict XVI can move only short distances before it becomes agonising to carry on.
Need some help: For the last few months, it has been noticed that the
Pope requires some kind of assistance while walking and has been seen
walking with a stick. File pic/Getty Images
His condition, which is related to his age, last month prompted him to request the use of a wheeled platform.
Pilgrims were surprised to see the pontiff clinging to the bar of the platform while ushers rolled it slowly down the main aisle, making it impossible for him to stop and greet well-wishers as he usually does. At the time, the Vatican played down concerns about the Pope's health, saying the platform was 'solely to lighten the burden' of processions.
But Andrea Tornielli, an Italian journalist has revealed that the Pope is suffering from a disease of his joints.
He said that the Pope has been diagnosed as having arthrosis, a degenerative disease caused by erosion of cartilage in joints.
Pope Benedict has often been seen dragging his right leg as he walks and also publicly used a white cane during the World Youth Day celebrations in Madrid.
According to Tornielli, the Pope uses the walking stick even when moving around the papal apartments.
The fact that it was the Pope -- and not his doctors -- who requested the mobile platform sparked renewed fears about the health of a man who has suffered two mild strokes and is also known to have a weak heart. It also prompted speculation that the Pope might eventually resign rather than die in office.
But Father Ian Ker, an Oxford priest, said it was unlikely that the Pope would quit simply because of problems with his joints. "Arthrosis won't make any difference and at his age it is hardly surprising," said Ker.
Arthrosis is a chronic degenerative disease of a bone joint, which causes those inflicted pain when they move. It is usually age-related and mainly afflicts the joints of the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and the back.
arthrosis -- which comes from the Greek word arthros, meaning joint -- is caused by the degeneration of cartilage covering the ends of the bones in the joint.
Cracks appear in the cartilage until holes and even ulcers begin to form at the ends of the bones, as the deterioration progresses at a faster rate than the body can produce replacement cells.
The deterioration in the cartilage also increases friction between moving body parts and a loss in capability to absorb shock. Ultimately this leads to the loss of free movement in the joint.