Apr 24, 2023 / Rheumatology

Pain-free and Positioned for Speed

Published in Rite Up, 2023 – Issue 1. 

“When I’m on the snow, I’m not really thinking, I’m just skiing,” says 15-year-old Banks, of Beaver Creek, Colorado. “I like to go fast!”

Banks is an alpine ski racer. He skis for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and attends high school at Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy where he trains and competes in races across the nation and internationally. Banks started skiing when he was 4. At age 6, he told his dad he had found his sport. In a typical year, he skis in alpine events, including slalom, giant slalom, super-G and downhill.

When Banks was in 4th grade, he started having hip pain. “I would wake up in pain and not want to go skiing,” he says. “In class, I had pain in my tailbone from sitting in a chair.” Doctors in Denver diagnosed him with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Banks’ parents, who are from North Texas, decided to seek a second opinion from Scottish Rite for Children.

At Scottish Rite, rheumatology experts confirmed JIA as well as a diagnosis of bilateral sacroiliitis, an inflammation of the sacroiliac joints that connect the spine to the pelvis. The team prescribed weekly injections, and after getting his medication just right, they were able to manage his condition.

“The last time I had pain was in 5th grade, and I was on crutches,” Banks says. “Now, I almost forget that I have JIA.” His mother, Brandi, says that his care has been handled so well that his diagnosis has not held him back from accomplishing what he wants to do. “I want to make the U.S. Ski Team,” Banks says, “and my ultimate goal is to ski in the World Cup.”

“Without Scottish Rite, I wouldn’t be able to ski,” he says. “They not only care about how you are doing as a patient, they care about your life.”

Read the full issue.

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