Phil Mickelson, Arthritis, and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

I’ve always wondered about a possible link between arthritis and obstructive sleep apnea. We know that people with arthritis also have a higher rate of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. I recently found out that Phil Mickelson has a debilitating condition called psoriatic arthritis. A few days before the last US Open, he could barely walk. 

As I researched the link between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and obstructive sleep apnea, I was shocked to see all the studies showing how often people with arthritis have significant obstructive sleep apnea. Here’s a great review article on the association between these two conditions. What’s striking is the fact the the leading cause of death in people with rheumatoid arthritis is cardiovascular disease. Various studies have shown that around 50% of all people with RA have obstructive sleep apnea, which is a very high number.


We know that one of the major effects of sleep apnea is systemic inflammation, with significant measured increased in markers such as CRP, IL-2, IL-6, and TNF, amongst many others. The physiologic stress response that’s created in obstructive sleep apnea can activate your immune system, making it hypersensitive or over-react to normal situations. 


Do you have obstructive sleep apnea and rheumatoid arthritis? If so, did your arthritis get better after treating your sleep apnea? 

(I realize that Mickelson had psoriatic arthritis. I’ll be posting about psoriasis and sleep apnea soon. You’ll be surprised by what I found.)


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

10 thoughts on “Phil Mickelson, Arthritis, and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  1. I was just dx w psoriatic arthritis. Several years ago, I remember a GP wanting to test me for obstructive sleep apnea. I was small and related the disorder to those overweight. My familial history extends to sleep apnea. I would be very interested in your findings. Thanks for your work!

  2. Sleep apnea is a condition that’s caused by small jaw structures. Obesity is the end result. It’s been shown that even young, thin women that don’t snore can have severe obstructive sleep apnea. You should consider getting a sleep study.

  3. I was diagnosed with Juvenile RA (similar to psoriatic arthritis in that it is an immune disease) when I was a year old. Today I am 26 and just found out that I have mild sleep apnea. There really may be something to this. I haven’t been treated yet but we will see what happens.

  4. Doc, please don’t forget to do the article on RA and sleep apnea. I have been diagnosed with both and I do use CPAP, and I also believe that CPAP has helped the edema in my legs caused by the sleep apnea – these processed are so complex I don’t think people realize how life-threatening they really are. I will be anxiously awaiting anything that you can put together for us!

  5. My husband has osa and tested severe. He did CPAP for 2 years but found that without the migraine medication it was not that effective. He had nose surgery and at the moment is waiting to do the throat surgery. He has arthritis from a motorbike accident however the arthritis has become heaps worst as his sleep apnea is not under control. We have been wondering if there is a link between the two.
    My husband was 44 years old when diagnosed in 2007. He is not overweight but he has a small jaw and unfortunately grinds his teeth when asleep. We believe that the arthritis is affecting his sleep as he constantly has to reposition during the night, making the problem worst.

  6. I was just diagnosed with sleep apnea. I’ve had RA for 20 years; first time I’ve read about the connection between RA and sleep apnea. I’m anxious to see if the CPAP helps with the arthritis.

  7. I just received my cpap machine from the veterans administration yesterday. I am a disabled veteran due to RA. I was diagnosed with RA over 35 years ago. Although the veterans administration has treated me for RA all these years they continue to deny me any monetary benefits. Every time they do a blood test for the RA factor I test positive. If your premise is correct the CPAP machine the veterans administration has provided me with makes sense. I guess I should be thankful for small favors considering I risked my life for my country. The real shame is they originally gave me a disability rating of 30 percent disabled and reduced that rating to “disabled but zero percent compensated” when I missed a random disability exam. I had to work and did not have transportation from Utica New York to the VA hospital in Syracuse New York. I was 21-years-old then. Now I am 54-years-old.

  8. Hi
    I have had sleep apnea for two years, then September last year got a sore back and now 15 months later have got psoriasis arthritis , as anyone got the same thing I am very interested in hearing of you as I believe my docter should have been able to diagnose me a lot sooner.

  9. For years, I wondered if I had sleep apnea because I had recurrent dreams where I was choking, and my husband said that I gagged in my sleep, but it never occurred to me that it could be serious enough to cause complications. Then, this past winter, I started waking up stiff as a board and by summer was diagnosed with r.a.
    A few weeks ago, I mentioned my snoring issue to my doctor who sent me for a sleep study. The results show I have a moderate to severe case of sleep apnea. I can hardly wait for the cpap machine. I appreciate the information I am learning from this site and will pass it on to my doctor,

  10. I’ve always had a problem with blisters on my hands and fingers. I’d awaken in the middle of the night with numbness in my hands. I started using the CPAP machine three months ago and I no longer have suffer with pain in the middle of the night and my hands are soft looking again. Simply amazing. I never knew the CPAP machine would resolve other issues like arthritis.