Keith Clements

Diagnosed with gout at 21, then rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis in his 50s

Simple tasks that became impossible because of rheumatic conditions:

Using stairs


After starting his adult life as a driver in the RAF, Keith was diagnosed with gout. His condition worsened through the next decade and he was forced to change careers several times due to his pain. After settling as a head chef in a restaurant Keith had plans to become an executive chef, but was then diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis in his 50s, putting these plans on hold. 

Keith’s Story: A career in flux

While working as a driver in the RAF, Keith began to experience swelling and pain in his knee. Keith was soon diagnosed with gout. This condition got worse through Keith’s 20s and 30s, and Keith experienced the pain and swelling all over his body, including hands and knees as well as other joints.“I had to use walking sticks, and could no longer continue in the same job.” 

This was to be the start of a number of job changes which were all prompted by mobility problems relating to Keith’s rheumatic condition. “After my shifts as a catering manager, it would take me an hour to do what should be a 15 minute walk home because of the pain and swelling in my joints.” 

8 years ago Keith was diagnosed with both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis after his GP referred him to a rheumatologist in order to treat his gout. Whilst an initial round of treatment didn’t work, a second round proved successful in dramatically reducing the swelling. Now that Keith is receiving treatment for all three conditions, the pain he experiences is much reduced, although the impact on his job and future career is still a significant concern. 

Living with a rheumatic disease: Trying to battle on

Keith has been considerably debilitated by his three conditions. If he moves around a lot, or stands or sits for any length of time he experiences severe pain. As a result he is unable to perform simple tasks such as being able to walk to the bus stop which is only 25 yards away. During damp weather and the winter such tasks are even harder for Keith.

Like many arthritis patients, Keith has struggled to maintain a positive outlook on life.  The mental toll of rheumatic conditions is something Keith can personally describe – “I sometimes feel that my condition(s) take the fun out of everything”.

Keith's Window of Opportunity

Whilst Keith has had to stop some of the activities he enjoyed such as walks in the countryside, he receives Disability Living Allowance which allows him to subsidise his partner’s car to travel. Although Keith finds it hard to find positives in his condition, he hopes that his story will encourage investment for innovation. “I hope that telling my story may help encourage funding for further research into better treatments for my conditions.”

Keith is sharing his story to help raise awareness of rheumatic conditions because he wants to encourage better treatment as well as highlight a need for self-management support and pain management. 

The window of opportunity is key in finding the right treatment for millions of people with rheumatic conditions.

If you are inspired by Keith’s story, visit the " Take Action" section to learn about your window of opportunity to help.