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Staying on top of health is one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves, both from a physical standpoint and just in appreciation of the individual temples keeping us going day-to-day.

Health problems can unfortunately hit us at random when we least expect it, sometimes due to negligence on our end but also by the unfortunate chance of inherited illness. In both cases, all you can do is go about taking the right actions to better yourself.

That’s exactly what boxing legend Mike Tyson did when he allowed himself to be photographed while in a wheelchair during a recent public appearance. He later confirmed that it was due to his ongoing battle with sciatica, a nerve disorder that causes debilitating pain from your lower back down to one or both legs.

In Iron Mike’s case, he says a flare-up can get so bad that it leaves him with the inability to even speak.


“I have sciatica every now and then,” Tyson confirmed to Newsmax TV earlier this month after his wheelchair photos leaked (seen above), with the youngest heavyweight champion going on to add, “When it flares up, I can’t even talk! Thank God it’s the only health problem I have.”

Take a look at some of the common symptoms of sciatica below, via WebMD:

  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the rear or leg that is worse when sitting
  • Hip pain Burning or tingling down the leg
  • Weakness, numbness, or a hard time moving the leg or foot
  • A constant pain on one side of the rear
  • A shooting pain that makes it hard to stand up

While most people with sciatica tend to recover within 4 to 6 weeks, symptoms can last up to a year or longer for a select few. That ends up applying to Black people in particular being that we’re systematically under-treated for back pains. A 2020 study by UVA Batten revealed that Black and Hispanic people receive worse on 40% of healthcare provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That number is especially relevant to the racial disparities involving medical pain treatment.


In addition to wishing Iron Mike a speedy recovery, we wanted to use his bravery in publicly speak on his sciatica diagnosis by highlight a few other rare health problems that have proven to affect our community at a rapid rate.

Potentially save yourself or a loved one by getting some need-to-know facts on rare health issues that we think Black people should be informed on:



Sciatica And Other Rare Health Issues Black People Should Be Aware Of  was originally published on

1. Sarcoidosis


  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea).
  • Cough that won’t go away.
  • Reddish bumps or patches on the skin or under the skin.
  • Enlarged lymph glands in the chest and around the lungs that produces cough and shortness of breath.
  • Fever, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, general feeling of ill health.

2. Sickle Cell Anemia


  • Anemia. Sickle cells break apart easily and die. 
  • Episodes of pain. Periodic episodes of extreme pain, called pain crises, are a major symptom of sickle cell anemia.
  • Swelling of hands and feet.
  • Frequent infections.
  • Delayed growth or puberty.
  • Vision problems.

3. Tuberculosis


  • Coughing for three or more weeks.
  • Coughing up blood or mucus.
  • Chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing.
  • Unintentional weight loss.
  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.
  • Night sweats.
  • Chills.

4. Human Papillomavirus


High risk HPV may not present with any symptoms. Without treatment, however, it can cause several cancers, including the following:

  • cervical
  • vaginal
  • vulvar
  • oropharyngeal
  • anal

5. Atrial Fibrillation


  • Sensations of a fast, fluttering or pounding heartbeat (palpitations)
  • Chest pain.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Reduced ability to exercise.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Weakness.

6. Cystic Fibrosis


  • Very salty-tasting skin.
  • Persistent coughing, at times with phlegm.
  • Frequent lung infections including pneumonia or bronchitis.
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath.
  • Poor growth or weight gain in spite of a good appetite.
  • Frequent greasy, bulky stools or difficulty with bowel movements.
  • Nasal polyps.

7. Thalassemia


  • Fatigue.
  • Weakness.
  • Pale or yellowish skin.
  • Facial bone deformities.
  • Slow growth.
  • Abdominal swelling.
  • Dark urine.

8. Amyloidosis


  • Severe fatigue and weakness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands or feet.
  • Swelling of the ankles and legs.
  • Diarrhea, possibly with blood, or constipation.
  • An enlarged tongue, which sometimes looks rippled around its edge.

9. Lupus


  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.
  • Joint pain, stiffness and swelling.
  • Butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose or rashes elsewhere on the body.
  • Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure.
  • Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods.