Barry Gibb health: ‘It’s killing me’ – singer, 75, recalls ‘extensive’ health problem
Barry Gibb receives knighthood at Buckingham Palace
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After the devastating loss of his three brothers, two of whom Maurice and Robin were his bandmates, Gibb’s thoughts turned to his own death. Being the oldest Bee Gee the star revealed that he is a “safety-first type of person” and avoids driving too fast, going on rollercoasters and boiling water. Speaking to Piers Morgan on ITV’s Life Stories back in 2017, Gibb opened up about the pain of losing his brothers. He said: “It feels devastating to be without them. We dealt with it, it’s a void. I don’t remember how we did it, we just got on with it but I don’t think we were ever the same.”
Bravely battling on after the death of his bandmates, Gibb started a successful solo career, which saw him release the album Greenfields back in 2020.
But beady-eyed fans have noticed that the ageing star’s health is not what it once was. Back in 2018, Gibb received a knighthood from Prince Charles for his services to music and charity. But when asked by the senior royal to stand up from his kneeling position, the singer replied: “I don’t think I can.”
Speaking to ITV News, Gibb admitted: “He [Prince Charles] said ‘you can stand up now’ and I said I don’t think I can.
“And he replied, ‘no it doesn’t get any easier does it’.”
Going on to say how much he valued the award, Gibb added: “It’s all surreal and a great shock. It is not something I personally ever expected to happen in my life so this is the greatest honour that your culture can give you.”
Although Gibb did not comment further on the event, the obvious display of difficulty may have been caused by his long-term battle with arthritis, which he first spoke about in an interview with Michael Parkinson.
It was reported by The Mirror that during the episode of legendary telly show Parksinson which aired in 2001, Gibb said: “I suffer from extensive arthritis, so it’s pretty much everywhere
“You can see it in my hands. This thumb is out of its socket. There’s already a knuckle gone. But I have to deal with it.”
The singer went on to explain that doctors blame the onset of the condition on “too many gruelling tours” as well as playing too much tennis, which the star started to play when he was 33 years old.
“I love tennis, but I didn’t start playing until I was about 33, and that’s too late,” Gibb added. “The joints really start to suffer then. Unknown to myself, I damaged all my joints. There were times about five years ago when I literally couldn’t get out of bed. I was living in pain.
“My lower back problems really began in 1989 on the One For All tour, which was agony for me. I got through it and then there was another tour, and we did Europe. I was supposed to do America after that, but the pain was unbearable.
“I went to hospital and said to the doctor, ‘If it doesn’t look right, fix it. It’s killing me’. Back surgery isn’t a pleasant experience. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone and I think my back surgery aggravated the arthritis.
“Sometimes it can be my knee or my hands, although my real problem is my left shoulder. I can’t completely lift my left arm. Fortunately I can still play the guitar, but I have to strap my wrists up to give them support. It’s the twisting of the wrist that causes the pain, so it’s OK.”
Arthritis is a common condition that refers to joint pain or joint disease. The Arthritis Foundation explains that there are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions, affecting everyone of all ages.
In the UK, more than 10 million people have arthritis or other, similar conditions that affect the joints, with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis being the two most common.
Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray. Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints.
The NHS explains that osteoarthritis initially affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint, making movement more difficult than usual and causing additional pain and stiffness.
Over time and as a result of the tendons and ligaments working harder, bony spurs called osteophytes develop. Severe loss of cartilage can lead to bone rubbing on bone, altering the shape of the joint and forcing the bones out of their normal position.
Rheumatoid arthritis on the other hand slightly differs. Generally affecting individuals between 40 and 50 years of age, the condition is caused by the body’s immune system targeting affected joints which leads to pain and swelling.
This can then spread across the joint, leading to further swelling and a change in the joint’s shape. Over time this may cause the bone and cartilage to break down. Causing the following symptoms:
- Inflammation in and around the joints
- Restricted movement of the joints
- Warm red skin over the affected joint
- Weakness and muscle wasting.
Although there is no current cure for the condition, the NHS explains that there are multiple treatments that can help to slow the progression of arthritis down. For osteoarthritis, treatments include lifestyle changes, medication and sometimes surgery. Similarly, for rheumatoid arthritis anti-inflammatory medication, physiotherapy and surgery are preferred.
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