Sadiq Jiwa: Staying in the Game

Learn how this lifelong athlete adapted to keep competing despite his JIA.

By Mary Anne Dunkin | March 13, 2023

Despite the uncertainties that come with a chronic disease, life for 26-year-old Canadian golfer Sadiq Jiwa has held at least two constants — pain and his love for sports.

An active child, Sadiq began experiencing ongoing neck pain as a toddler that sent his parents on years-long quest for answers, which they finally received from rheumatologists in British Columbia. Sadiq had juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) — a diagnosis which has evolved over the years as symptoms have changed and other joints have become involved.

Despite his pain and grueling treatment regimen — which at one point consisted of eight or nine pills with each meal — Sadiq continued to be active, trying his hand at multiple sports and deciding on hockey, which he played “somewhat competitively” until his early teens.

At 14, a bad injury and increased aggressiveness of the game forced Sadiq to give up the sport he loved — but not his love for sports. He traded in his skates and hockey stick for golf cleats and clubs and completely immersed himself into a sport not known for frost bite, concussions or broken teeth or bones.

Practicing at times for as long as 12 hours a day, Sadiq excelled in his new chosen sport, becoming captain of his school golf team by his junior year and being recruited to play for Kenyon College, a private liberal arts college in Ohio.

While his treatment, like his disease, has evolved over the years, he says his current regimen of a biologic medication and methotrexate along with daily meloxicam and cyclobenzaprine, a muscle relaxant, as needed, keeps the disease under control for the most part. Non-medication approaches, such as physiotherapy and adequate rest, are also important, he says.

Today, Sadiq is a pro golfer training for the PGA Tour with help of effective treatment, supportive parents, a modified swing and clubs, and a sheer determination to be the very best that he can be.

“The golf I play is not the one where you are in a golf cart with your buddies having a couple of beers,” he says. “This is training to become one of the best in the world and play at the ultra highest level.”

While few people — with arthritis or not — will become world-class athletes, Sadiq hopes his story can be an example for other young people facing challenges. “There’s got to be something there to help each individual person to get to whatever achievable goal they can get to.”

The first step, he says is get educated about arthritis. “There are resources available,” he says. “Find information to help you manage your condition and people who will support you. My advice is to go seek those out; that’s really what I did.”

Sadiq says getting educated means learning specifically how arthritis affects you, what triggers bad days and what helps.

“Similar to golf, we take it one shot a time,” he says. “With arthritis we take it one day at a time."

Tune in to our Live Yes! With Arthritis podcast episode on dating with arthritis to hear Jacqueline's and others' dating experiences.