Pope Francis is being treated for arthritic knee pain at the Vatican with the assistance of the head of Atlético Madrid’s medical staff, Jose Maria Villalon.
The Pope, who oversees more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide, has relied on a wheelchair or a walking stick since May.
In an interview with the Spanish radio station Cope, Dr. Villalón said “I am optimistic the Pope can be helped”, but he admitted that the Pope’s busy schedule made treatment more difficult.
He also said that the responsibility of this new assignment made him “extremely apprehensive” during his initial meeting with the pontiff.
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“More conservative treatment will have to be offered,” he said because the Pope is refusing surgery, having had a colon operation in July last year. The Pope’s arthritis causes swelling of his joints, he explained.
“He has a great personality, he’s doing well, very lucid, he’s a very grateful man, very friendly and pleasant. He also likes football,” Dr. Villalón added
The Pope is a big fan of the Argentinian club San Lorenzo.
Since 1995, the doctor has provided care for the footballers of Atlético Madrid. He is an expert in traumatology and orthopedic surgery.
During a trip to Canada in July Pope Francis stated that he may need to think about stepping down at some point in the near future and that he would do so if his health prevented him from doing his duties as effectively as he should.