Spanish Chief Physician football The Vatican has asked Atlético Madrid to treat Pope Francis’ knee injury.
José María Villalon, a specialist in orthopedic surgery and traumatology, told Spanish radio station COPE that he was part of a team of specialists who went to treat Pope Francis.
“Both from the Episcopal Conference and from the Apostolic Nunciature of the Vatican in Spain, they asked a group of specialists to help the Pope in the situation in which he finds himself,” Villalon said. “We see him in a wheelchair and let’s see if we can help him improve his mobility and slow down his arthritis.”
Pope Francis was often seen with a cane and sometimes in a wheelchair due to pain in his right knee.
Earlier this year, an 85-year-old man canceled a trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan after doctors said he might also have to miss a later trip to Canada unless he agreed to undergo another 20 days of therapy and rest for his right knee
In an interview with Reuters in JulyPope Francis first spoke about the injury, saying he suffered a “little fracture” in his knee when he took a wrong step when a ligament became inflamed.
Villalon told COPE that Pope Francis is suffering from “an arthritic process affecting various joints.”
He continued: “Sometimes it starts in a joint with arthritis, and other joints get worse because they carry more stress than usual. And he wants to slow this process down so it doesn’t get worse.”
Villalon explained that he was “nervous” about meeting Pope Francis because “a world figure has to be physically fit,” adding that his busy schedule makes it difficult to treat his injury.
“We have the disadvantage that he is not a normal patient due to his great activity. It may be harder for Papa because he has a very difficult schedule, but I am an optimist. We can help the Pope; he helps us with everything else, but at least we can consult the doctors who are with him on a daily basis.”
Villalon described Pope Francis as “a great personality, he is very good, very clear psychologically. He is a very grateful person, very kind and loves football.”
After Villalon mentioned that he worked for Atlético Madrid, he described Pope Francis, an avid fan of Argentine football, and expressed his support for Atlético and Argentine striker Angel Correa.
“He has a lot of love for him. Dad is a fan of San Lorenzo and since he is the team’s chaplain, he confirmed [Correa]so they have a mutual concern for each other.”
However, Villalon said that although he is a “very nice patient”, Pope Francis is “very stubborn in the sense that there are surgical solutions that he does not want”.
“We have to offer a more conservative treatment for him to agree,” Villalon said.
He added: “I hope to return because the first visit was just a consultation.”
Pope Francis told Reuters he doesn’t want knee surgery because the general anesthesia 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.