Keyboard hands

Attention all keyboard users. One day you might get stiff fingers because of osteoarthritis, and it’s pretty likely that it’s not helped by  overuse of keyboards. I am an example – I have been using typewriter/computer keyboards since I was 17 and still am, and that  was way before we had phones we took everywhere.

So have a look at these videos on YouTube:  Effective exercise for osteoarthritis in the hands; Arthritis hands; Boosting flexibility for hands; Keyboard hands

Osteoarthritis (usually called arthritis) creeps up on you as you get older and often finds its way into joints we have overused. So if you have run a home, cooked meals, done any gardening, in fact almost anything you are likely to overuse your hands. And think about the number of times you have to push buttons with your thumb to open them so the thumb often suffers more than others. 

How do you know you’re getting OA in the hands (the most common place to get it)? 

  1. Finger and thumb joints become bigger and you can’t get your rings on or off easily. 
  2. They can become knobbly and painful.
  3. It’s not so easy to use them, as they may hurt when you try to. 

You might benefit with some hand exercises to keep your fingers fit – at the least this could help delay the problems. As with many things when you’re young you feel invincible and don’t believe it will happen to you. But the excessive amount of use thumbs and fingers get nowadays sending messages and watching everything on phones, this problem is likely to get bigger and bigger. 

And there isn’t a simple fix pill. In fact, the first line of advice from GPs now is to exercise, so I rest my case.  Post by the author of One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis, available from book stores, online and at Amazon. 

‘Everything is possible’ at the model GP practice

Beautiful flooring at the Bromley-by-Bow garden

Based on the principle that only 20 per cent of what GPs do is effective for their patients, (Professor Sir) Sam Everington has built up a health centre in London’s East End which ‘takes the patient on a journey of managing their own health’. ‘Instead of asking patients, “What’s the matter with you?”, we like to ask, “What matters to you?”
Just imagine going to the GP’s practice to talk about your ailments, and the doctor decides that you need so much more than healthcare. What’s more, what you need is quite likely to be available at the health centre. Sounds like some idyllic dream, but tucked into a side street just back from the high-rise buildings and fast highways is Bromley-by-Bow Health Centre, a haven of peace and friendliness, with a warm, buzzing and inviting atmosphere.
Around 4,000 people go through the centre every week and while they are dealt with medically, they also have the opportunity to take part in any of the 100 or so projects facilitated by the local community and run in and around the health centre. A social enterprise zone has seen the emergence of start-ups with 60/ 80 of them still viable businesses, including a stained glass window workshop still on the premises.
At the heart of the centre is the café which provides food and drink all day but, above all, is a place for people to mingle and participate in the projects. These include computer classes, yoga, an elderly art group known as Young at Art, English language lessons, and pottery. The practice is located right by a public park, which used to be called ‘dog shit green’ but now boasts beautiful sculptures and is well maintained, like the beautiful area off the park, where local gardeners can grow plants, flowers and vegetables.
Everyone can involve themselves including people suffering from drug addiction, and counselling is also available on site. There is help at hand to help people struggling with their finances, organising mobile phone contracts, dealing with energy supplies, and much more. Sorting out the finances to ease their minds and improve their health and wellbeing.
This is social prescribing in action, and it is now widespread in the NHS. Bromley-by-Bow health practice is a perfect example of how it can work ‘It’s all about bringing communities together,’ Sam explains. We offer compassion, friendship and it’s about having fun, assuming that everything is possible.’

Watch that sun

Every summer is getting hotter, and in May the UV rays are very high so it’s important to watch that sun!.  Just believing that it’s OK to sit in the sun if you have a high factor sun cream, is dangerous.  (See below about the problems with sun tan lotions).

There’s a mixed message about the sun – the skin needs exposure to the sun to make that vital Vitamin D which is essential for healthy bones and teeth,  immune system and cognitive function – pretty important!  Yet we have been receiving a message for years that too much sun (and exposure to sunbeds) can cause skin cancer. View Skin Cancer Rates High in the UK.

It’s very important to use high factor sun cream, but what we need to be careful of is the sun cream itself. It can cause eczema, skin rashes, and has been found to be high in harsh chemicals. There are plenty of safe alternatives that are more natural.

The problem starts when we are young and we think we’re invincible, and despite what they say, we still love a tan.  Children’s skin is more at risk than adults and it is from a young age that we need to be protected – so why not take a leaf out of the Australians’ book? The Slip, Slap, Slop campaign A very successful advertising campaign in Australia was Slip Slap Slop: • Slip on a T-shirt • Slap on a cap • Slop on the sunscreen!

It’s very important to use high factor sun cream, but what we need to be careful of is the sun cream itself. It can cause eczema, skin rashes, and has been found to be high in harsh chemicals. There are plenty of safe alternatives that are more natural.

Why the sun is good for us

No wonder people get fed up with conflicting messages but it is true that exposure to the sun without sunscreen enables the skin to manufacture Vitamin D. It is also a fact that many of us are deficient in Vitamin D, according to recent research. Vitamin D helps to maintain healthy bones and teeth, and regulates calcium and phosphorus levels which ensure good muscle function.  Read more in Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sun.

This doesn’t therefore mean that spending hours in the sun without sunscreen is a good idea when it’s exceptionally hot. Good judgement helps most of us to know how much sun is enough depending on the temperature outside. But of course children cannot make this decision for themselves and are usually so busy playing that they don’t think about it. There are other reasons why too much sun isn’t that good for us – everyone has seen people who have tanned so much that their skin becomes tough, old and wrinkly. Also too much sun on a very hot day can bring on sunstroke which results in headaches, dehydration and sickness and can be dangerous.

Sunscreen yes – chemicals no! Once you become keen to avoid pesticides in your food, and start looking at cosmetics to see what they contain, you become aware of what’s in sun creams.  There are a range of different chemicals in them including  phthalates, PABA, BPA and parabens. There are also said to be chemicals in them (xenoestrogens) that mimic or disrupt hormones and these can be in the ‘parfum’, a cocktail of chemicals or oxybenzone. There is a particular chemical, Isothiazolinone, which is in many body creams and lotions and which many people are allergic to. It also has derivatives (like parabens) so look for the name if your skin is sensitive.

One of the worst chemicals is parabens which is usually found in well known brands of sun tan lotion. It appears in many different forms: methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, butyl paraben, propyl paraben, and propul paraben. Research studies found that propyl paraben has been found to decrease sperm production and traces of parabens have been found in human breast tissue. There are now plenty of healthier alternatives which are good for the skin, make it moist and also prevent sunburning. Given that it’s not a good idea to spend hours and hour in hot sun, these sunscreens are perfectly adequate. Parfum too is a strange term that covers a whole gamut of fragrance chemicals, the names of which are not listed. People with allergies often have a reaction to parfum. It’s perfectly possible to buy sunscreens that use natural ingredients up to about 46 F.  Some contain essential oils, several contain aloe vera. They smell great, they work and they keep your skin soft and protected, without allowing harsh chemicals into the bloodstream – particularly suitable for kids.

Bad weather affects our joints

Courtesy of Daoudi Aissa
Courtesy of Daoudi Aissa

It’s not just an old wives’ tale that you can forecast the weather by the pains in your joints.  It’s true.  While researching my book, One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis  (by Frances Ive, which focuses on staying active  to stay mobile and happy , the following research showed that a  10 degree drop in temperature and also a fall  in barometric pressure affected people’s joints.

Scientists carried out a study at Tufts University, Boston, of 200 people of around 60 years old with osteoarthritis of the knee over a three month period[1]. They concluded that changes in barometric pressure and ambient temperature are independently associated with osteoarthritis knee pain severity. Every 10 degree drop in temperature was also linked to an increase in arthritis pain.

It may actually be the lowering of barometric pressure that affect people the most – not the pressure itself. Scientists carried out a study at Tufts University, Boston, of 200 people of around 60 years old with osteoarthritis of the knee over a three month period[1]. They concluded that changes in barometric pressure and ambient temperature are independently associated with osteoarthritis knee pain severity. Every 10 degree drop in temperature was also linked to an increase in arthritis pain.

Now , new research from Regenovex®[2] – a unique science backed supplement to help support bone health and muscle function for people leading active lives, found that many people were aware of the relationship between the weather and their aches and pains.

• Nearly three in five (57%) say that the cold is the type of weather that most affects their joints, bones and muscles
• For 38% of the nation, the damp causes health miseries for the body’s network of muscles, joints and bones
• Rain for 27% of people plays havoc with their bones, joints and muscles.

One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis, Frances Ive, Hammersmith Health Books, is available at Waterstones,

Amazon, and independent book stores.


[1] McAlindon T1Formica MSchmid CHFletcher J. Changes in barometric pressure and ambient temperature influence osteoarthritis pain. Am J Med. 2007 May;120(5):429-34.

[2] Global Ginger Comms; Autumn 2020; data on file.

Premier League footballer shares turmeric shots

Hal Robson-Kanu West Bromwich Albion
Hal Robson-Kanu West Bromwich Albion

Premier League footballer, Thomas “Hal” Robson-Kanu, admits that as a teenager he knew nothing about nutrition or natural remedies. ‘I understood the importance of protein and carbohydrates, so steak and pasta was my go to meal,’ he explains. That was before the West Bromwich Albion and Wales player had an ACL ( anterior cruciate ligament) injury. He says, ‘After the first ACL I spent a lot of time in the gym and so became increasingly aware of the impact protein plays in building muscle. This certainly sparked my initial interest in nutrition.’

Consequently,  in 2017 Hal founded The Turmeric Co which provides a powerful turmeric-based shot that ‘actually works’ according to Hal. After two rounds of reconstructive surgery at the beginning of a promising football career he found that the prescribed medication was causing him side-effects. So he went down the route of having  turmeric shots developed by The Turmeric Co, a company he founded. The shots provide 35g of fresh root (not powder) which is the highest amount of raw organic turmeric root possible, all within a bio-available formula that doesn’t sacrifice taste. The other ingredients in the mix also have beneficial health properties – ginger root, watermelon, pineapple, pomegranate and to enhance absorption, black pepper.

Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory due to its vital ingredient, curcumin, so it is helpful for sports injuries and osteoarthritis (see  One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis). It is also claimed to be effective at keeping harmful cholesterol in check, easing depression, and is a powerful antioxidant, helping to fight infection and illness.

‘Turmeric is more than just curcumin (the only active compound used in turmeric supplements),’ Hal points out.  ‘There are over 100 compounds in the turmeric root which have been found to have potent pharmacological properties.  When the root is processed, many of these compounds are lost, and some supplements contain only extracted chemical curcumin. Traditional medicine has always used the whole turmeric root, and research is suggesting that the various compounds work synergistically together and can aid in the absorption of curcumin. Certain combinations of curcuminoids produce more biological action that any curcuminoid used alone.’

As well as Hal, several members of GB athletics and the National England rugby squad use the turmeric shots to help them recover from injury and stay fit. He adds, ‘The additional supplementation I found most beneficial were Omega 3 fish oils as well as Glucosamine and Chondroitin.’

Starting out as a home remedy the Turmeric Shot is now available online  in three flavours – turmeric, turmeric with ginger and turmeric with beetroot.