Mike Napoli suffers same condition as Bo Jackson

29 Jan

On January 22, 2013 Mike Napoli was officially introduced as the new first baseman for the Boston Red Sox. The 31-year-old spent the last two seasons with the Texas Rangers, and five before that with the Los Angeles Angels, splitting time between catcher and first base. In past seasons Napoli has struggled with unknown hip issues which were recently diagnosed after an MRI in December.

Mike Napoli

Mike Napoli

Napoli suffers from avascular necrosis (AVN), a condition resulting in bone deterioration caused by an interruption of blood flow to the bone. Luckily for Napoli, he is asymptomatic, meaning he does not suffer from soreness or limited mobility. Without medication the blood flow to the bone can be irregular, and without blood, the bone tissue dies and could cause the bone, and possibly assimilated joints, to collapse.

Napoli signed a one-year $5 million contract to be Boston’s everyday first baseman; a void left after the trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a blockbuster deal last season. He plans to be ready for opening day in April.

Mike Napoli isn’t the only professional athlete who has suffered from AVN, also called osteonecrosis. Bo Jackson had his career cut short due to the damage caused by AVN and the eventual hip replacement he underwent in 1992.

Bo Jackson

Bo Jackson

After missing the entire 1992 season, Bo Jackson returned to the Chicago White Sox for the 1993 season, played 85 games, and contributed to Chicago’s postseason run. After the season he was named American League Comeback Player of the Year and was the recipient of Tony Conigliaro Award—“given to a player who best overcomes an obstacle and adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination, and courage.” Because of the effects of his condition Jackson retired after the 1994 season, ending his 8-year career.

Ray Emery

Ray Emery

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery is another active professional athlete who has suffered from the same hip condition. He underwent surgery on his hip for AVN April 1, 2010, and made his return to the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks in March 2011. This is his second season with the Blackhawks.

According to NORD [National Organization for Rare Disorders], the condition can occur in any bone, but tends to appear at the ends of long bones. It most commonly occurs in the shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles.

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