Keith Richard

Keith Richard’s Battle With Hand Arthritis; Here’s How He’s handling It

Keith Richard’s famously battles with Hand Arthritis. Arthritis causes the wear and tear of the cartilages of the joints. This can lead to irritation and inflammation of the synovial lining, which is responsible for the production of the synovia fluid that acts as a lubricant for the joints. In a situation where arthritis affects your hand joints, you will experience some pain and stiffness. The feeling of pain can worsen whenever you frequently repeat tasks using your hands. When your hands become weak, you are unable to do the simplest of tasks like opening a jar.

Ageing Fingers

Just like any other career, some careers require that you frequently use your hands. Careers such as a typist and a guitarist require that you continuously use your hand. Any lover of rock music certainly knows a thing or two about Keith Richards. You might have heard or read that that his fingers are 'ageing' actually faster than other parts of his body.  It is obvious knowledge that Keith has developed osteoarthritis on his fingers. As a rock artist, the guitar is an essential instrument in his daily life, and at 71 years of age, he is still doing what he loves most despite his arthritis condition. It is amazing how he has managed to remain stronger for longer.

Despite several speculations doing round in the media that Keith Richards' arthritis was as a result of him playing the guitar, little evidence exists to associate joint pains with the playing of any instruments. Developing hand arthritis is common for everyone, not just for musicians.


Keith Richards

The 5-string Guitar

Approximately 80% of guitarists always experience pain due to continuous playing.  This is due to the long practice hours and lack of adequate rest. With his condition, Keith Richards has had to adapt to some changes to his technique of playing. This has in some way, made his performance a little easier as he continues getting older. He has adapted to using a 5-string guitar instead of the normal six-string guitar. When explaining his new adaptation, he says, 'there are a million places you don't have to put your fingers. The notes are there already'. Even with his condition and age, Keith Richards has continued to perform at high levels. This is attributed to his love for music and his physical constitution. With the pressure that playing the guitar requires, it is certainly amazing how he keeps going. Some of the factors that Keith Richards attributes to his longevity in playing the guitar despite having osteoarthritis include:

  • Healthy diet. He says that his diet is comprised of meals and potatoes.
  • No carrying of heavy loads
  • He does not smoke, and neither does he encourage anyone to
  • Continuous practising
  • He ensures that he stays active, though he does not work out much
  • Engage in activities such as watering the garden
  • Time for friends and family. This keeps you off any stress or pressure.

Read More: This Is How You Can Start Improving Your Physical Health

This certainly seems an easy way of maintaining your physical fitness without much straining.  All it needs is to always keep your joints as flexible as possible. With this, you will be able to improve the range of your hands' motion, and you will also be relieving arthritis pain with simple hand exercises. Hand exercises help in increasing the production of the synovial fluid, which is very important in improving the functions of the joints. Below are some hand exercises that you can undertake to help you deal with hand arthritis and improve the function of your hand joints.

  • Making a fist; this is one of the easiest hand exercises that you can carry out at any place and at any time you feel some stiffness on your hands. To do this, start by holding your hand out with all the fingers straight, slowly bend your hand to form a fist while placing your thumb on the outside of the hand. Ensure that you don't put pressure on your hand by squeezing. Then open your hands, making your fingers straight again. Do this repeatedly ten times with your hand. Repeat the same sequence with your other hand.
  • Finger bend; Hold out your hand straight. Start by slowly bending your thumb downwards towards your palm. Ensure to hold it on that position for a few seconds. Release your thumb and straighten it back. Move to your index finger. Bend it down towards your palm. Again, hold it for a few more seconds, then you straighten it. Repeat this process for all the fingers. Then do the same for all the fingers on the other hand.
  • Thumb bend; Start by holding your one hand out, ensuring that all the fingers are straight. Bend the thumb inward towards the palm. Using your thumb, stretch towards the bottom of your little finger. If it is not possible to reach the little finger, you don't need to worry. Just stretch to the level that you can reach. Maintain the position of your thumb for a few seconds, maybe one second or two, then return the thumb to its original starting position. Do this ten times repeatedly. Ones you are done with one hand, do the same for the other hand.
  • Make an 'O' with your fingers; This is another easy hand exercise that you can do to make your joints more flexible. Just like the other exercises, start by holding your hand out, and your fingers straightened. To form the 'O' shape, curve the fingers inwards until they touch with the thumb. Retain that particular posture for some seconds. Slowly straighten the fingers again


  • Wrist stretch; You are likely to concentrate on your hands, forgetting about your wrist. The wrist also aids in the motion of the hands, and can also get stiff and sore as a result of arthritis. When exercising your wrist, start by holding out your left arm as your palm faces down. With your right hand, press on your left hand until you start feeling some stretch in your arm and wrist. Stay in this position for some time. Do this ten times repeatedly. Ensure to do this for the right hand as well.
  • Finger lift; Place your right hand on a flat surface or table with your palm down. Start lifting each finger slowly off the table, starting with the thumb, one after the other. Hold each of the fingers for a couple of seconds before lowering it. Do this for the other fingers in the left hand.

To achieve maximum results, you need to make these exercises a daily routine. You can also reduce the risk of developing arthritis though the following actions:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • In case you are smoking, quit smoking
  • Avoid unnecessary injuries especially during leisure activities
  • Practice good posture.

To conclude...

If you experience some sort of pain in your hand, you should consider using assisting devices that are designed to ensure that you don't put too much pressure on your joints. Such devices include gripping devices and jar openers. Just like Keith Richards, you too can continue living a healthy and active life irrespective of your age. In case your pain increases, it is important that you talk to your doctor so that he can recommend exercises that are more specific to the joint that is experiencing pain. The doctor is also in a better position to give medical prescriptions to help with the pain.

With frequent exercising, you will live stronger for longer, just like Keith Richards, and enjoy doing that which you love doing.

If you’ve found this helpful, please share. And if you have any further questions, please let me know below and I or one of my team will do our best to provide you with answers.


Jamie Wood, Founder & CEO


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