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Atlético Madrid football club doctor called upon to treat Pope Francis’ knee injury

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Pope Francis arrives at the Colosseum for “The Cry for Peace – Religions and Cultures in Dialogue” ecumenical prayer gathering on October 25 in Rome, Italy.

  • José María Villalón, a specialist in orthopedic surgery and traumatology, said he was part of a group of specialists who traveled to treat Pope Francis.
  • Pope Francis has often been seen with a walking stick and sometimes using a wheelchair due to pain in his right knee.

The
head doctor at Spanish football club
Atlético Madrid has been called upon by the Vatican to treat Pope Francis’ knee
injury.

José María
Villalón, a specialist in orthopedic surgery and traumatology, told Spanish
radio station COPE that he was part of a group of specialists who traveled to
treat Pope Francis.

“Both from
the Episcopal Conference and the Apostolic Nunciature of the Vatican in Spain,
they requested that a group of specialists go help the Pope with the situation
that he’s experiencing,” Villalón said. “We see him in a wheelchair and let’s
see if we can help him improve his mobility and slow his arthritic process.”

Pope Francis
has often been seen with a walking stick and sometimes using a wheelchair due
to pain in his right knee.

Earlier this
year, the 85-year-old canceled a trip to Democratic Republic of Congo and South
Sudan after doctors said he might also have to miss a later trip to Canada
unless he agreed to have 20 more days of therapy and rest for his right knee.

In an
interview with Reuters in July
, Pope Francis spoke about the injury
for the first time, saying he had suffered “a small fracture” in the knee when
he took a misstep while a ligament was inflamed.

Villalón
told COPE that Pope Francis is suffering from an “arthritic process which is
affecting various joints.”

He
continued: “Sometimes, it starts in a joint with arthritis and other joints
worsen because they carry more load than normal. And he’s looking to slow down
that process and that it doesn’t worsen.”

Villalón
explained that he was “nervous” before meeting Pope Francis because “it’s a
responsibility for a world figure to be in shape physically,” adding that his
busy schedule adds to the difficulty in treating his injury.

“We have the
handicap that he isn’t a normal patient due to his great activeness. Possibly,
the Pope has it more difficult because his schedule is so complicated, but I’m
an optimist. We can help the Pope; he helps us with everything else, but we’ll
at least be able to advise the doctors who are there on a day-to-day basis with
him.”

Villalón
described Pope Francis as having a “great personality, he’s very good, very
lucid psychologically. He’s a very thankful person, very kind and he likes
football.”

After
Villalón mentioned that he worked for Atlético Madrid, he described Pope
Francis – a keen Argentina football fan – expressing his support for Atleti and
Argentina forward, Ángel Correa.

“He has a
lot of love for him. The Pope is a fan of San Lorenzo, and since he’s the
chaplain of the team, he confirmed [Correa], so they have a mutual care for one
another.”

However,
Villalón said that while he is a “very pleasant patient,” Pope Francis is “very
stubborn in the sense that there are surgical solutions that he doesn’t want.”

“We have to
offer more conservative treatments so that he’s in agreement,” Villalón said.

He added: “I
hope to return because the first visit was just a consultancy.”

Pope Francis
told Reuters that he did not want an operation on his knee because the general
anesthetic used in last year’s surgery to remove part of his colon due to
diverticulitis had negative side effects.

CNN has
reached out to the Vatican and Atlético for comment.



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