Hermiston Athlete Battles Rare Form of Arthritis - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Hermiston Athlete Battles Rare Form of Arthritis

Posted: Updated:

Hermiston, Ore. - A year and a half ago, Krieg Mueller was as active as any athlete at Hermiston High. Then he was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. He learned that A.S. was the source of his chronic-- and at times excruciating-- back pain.

The rare form of arthritis is identified by inflammation of the vertebrae.

Sometimes A.S. clears up, but in rare cases, the vertebrae can eventually fuse together. That can be debilitating.

"I try not to think about that, and to stay positive," he said.

Theres no cure, only treatment to manage pain or slow progression.

"It's worse in mornings," said Mueller. "Daily I struggle getting out of bed, going to school, working hard. I'm in constant pain."

"His goal was to run cross country in college, but now that's not going to happen" his mother Shari explained. "He's had to redirect some of his goals."

But dropping basketball was not in Krieg's mind.

"I've been playing basketball my whole life," said Krieg. "My Dad coached my first team. Stopping playing all sports my last two years in high school would be pretty devastating."

So despite the pain, he manages to go to school, practice and the games.

"I just take it as a challenge to go to school and work hard. I'm not as bad off as some other people."

"Kind of hard on Mom when she's in tears watching her boy compete," his father Steve said. "But I've really seen his character shine."

Krieg says his daily struggle was all worth it when he hit the game-winning buzzer-beater at Kennewick on December 5. "It feels good to get something out of the pain. Coach told me he wouldn't have wanted that to happen to anyone else,"

Presently, the treatments aren't working for him. His pain medication caused an infection, so he had to stop using it.

"It's frustrating not having an answer, but I can live without one," said Krieg.

Doctors have told the family to pursue other treatment options, a frustrating setback in the family's quest to cure Krieg's pain.

If you have any information that might help the Muellers, please call Shari Mueller at 541-567-2024.