Lady Gaga has been battling a monster, and its name is rheumatoid arthritis (RA). She surprised fans with the news by covering the spring issue of Arthritis magazine.
The two-page spread featuring the quote “Hip pain can’t keep me off stage” in big bold letters highlights how the pop star deals with the autoimmune disease that affects about 1.5 million people in the United States. Gaga has vaguely discussed her issues with pain on social media in the past, but this is the first time she actually named the culprit that has been afflicting her.
In February 2013, she had to take a hiatus from her “Born This Way Tour” after suffering a hip injury. She discussed the severity of what had transpired with WWD later that same year.
“My injury was actually a lot worse than just a labral tear,” she said at the time. “I had broken my hip. Nobody knew, and I haven’t even told the fans yet. But when we got all the MRIs finished before I went to surgery, there were giant craters, a hole in my hip the size of a quarter and the cartilage was just hanging out the other side of my hip. I had a tear on the inside of my joint and a huge breakage. The surgeon told me that if I had done another show I might have needed a full hip replacement. I would have been out at least a year, maybe longer.”
Arthritis.org explains that RA occurs when the body’s immune system — which normally protects us from infection — mistakenly attacks the synovium, the thin membrane that lines the joints. This may lead to hip joint damage and loss of function and disability if left unchecked.
Living with this condition continues to challenge Lady Gaga, as is evident by a November 2016 post on Instagram. She even admits that a source of strength for her is her paternal aunt Joanne Germanotta, who died from a different autoimmune disorder, lupus, at 19 years old.
But Gaga will push through the pain. She says that creating music for her fans is a constant source of motivation, according to the magazine article (currently only available in doctor’s offices).
There has been an outpouring of support for her from her fans for opening up about her diagnosis. Those of them who also suffer from RA or other similar illnesses are grateful to count her as one of them.