King Charles is just weeks away from his coronation. Alongside his wife, Queen Camilla, and the rest of the Royal Family, he will celebrate his big day at Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, as well as enjoy a big concert at Windsor the day after.
A king naturally needs to stay in good shape, as his job requires a fair bit of travel and many duties and engagements. Charles has a history of back problems and minor injuries (a product of his polo-playing days), but it’s his “sausage fingers” that have gotten the most attention in recent years.
There has been plenty of speculation about what caused King Charles’ swollen fingers. Indeed, even Queen Elizabeth once remarked on them.
Recently an expert has argued that Charles may be suffering from a “systemic condition.” That’s not because of his swollen fingers, though, but rather from his “sausage toes.”
In recent years, speculation surrounding his fingers has left royal fans concerned that King Charles may be living with a condition that the general public isn’t aware of.
Pictures of his red, swollen hands have spread across social media in the past, but the King has reportedly lived with oversized fingers for years. In 2012, while visiting Australia, he even joked about them, labeling them his “sausage fingers.”
King Charles’ health – “sausage fingers”
Indeed, Charles’ fingers appear to have been that way for many decades. In the 1980s, when Prince William was born, Charles reportedly wrote about it in a letter to a friend.
“I can’t tell you how excited and proud I am. He really does look surprisingly appetizing and has sausage fingers just like mine,” King Charles is quoted saying in the Howard Hodgson biography Charles, The Man Who Will Be King.
So the King’s hands have been a talking point all his life. Even the late Queen Elizabeth once commented on her firstborn son’s hands, describing them as “interesting.”
“The baby is very sweet, and we are enormously proud of him. He has an interesting pair of hands for a baby,” a letter from Elizabeth read.
“They are rather large, but with fine long fingers quite unlike mine and certainly unlike his father’s. It will be interesting to see what they become. I still find it hard to believe I have a baby of my own!”
Last year, Dr. Gareth Nye raised his own concerns concerning King Charles’ swollen fingers.
Speaking with the Daily Star, Nye, Senior Lecturer at the University of Chester, explained that while “loads of conditions” could lead to swollen fingers, some were more likely than others.
One possibility could be edema or fluid retention, he said at the time.
“Oedema is a condition where the body starts to retain fluids in the limbs, normally the legs and ankles but also in the fingers, which causes them to swell,” Nye said. “Oedema is a common condition and mostly affects people over the age of 65 as the ability for fluid control is restricted.”
What do King Charles’ fingers say about his health?
He added: “To see if this is the cause, pressing the swollen area for about 15 seconds would cause a depression in the area.”
Moreover, the doctor said King Charles’ swollen fingers could also be a sign of arthritis, a common condition for people over 60. It commonly affects three main areas in the hand – the thumb joint or either joint in the fingers.
While Nye further explained that causes might include a high salt diet, blood pressure medication can also lead to swelling. Yet despite all possibilities, he states that King Charles’ “sausage fingers” are not a sign of a significant health issue for the newly announced British monarch.
“There certainly aren’t any immediate health concerns to be concluded from swollen fingers and is most likely a sign of his age;” Dr. Gareth Nye said.
When new pictures of the monarch emerged, Nye once again weighed in on King Charles’ so-called “sausage fingers.”
In an interview with The Daily Star, Nye concluded that the monarch’s condition has changed and might even worsen.
Yet, while King Charles’ fingers have looked like this for a long time, Nye ruled out two prior theories he had issued regarding the king’s condition.
New update on King Charles’ “sausage fingers”
“Previous suggestions for the possible causes away from Charles’s individual anatomy included edema, where fluid leaks out of the blood and stays within the tissues nearby, leading to a swollen appearance,” Nye said.
As Nye believes King Charles’ fingers have gotten worse, he said that the edema is not likely anymore. Moreover, he doesn’t believe gout, a common form of inflammatory arthritis, is to blame.
“Although gout does impact on the hands and is a condition where small crystals formed of uric acid develop in the space between joints leading to pain, redness, and swelling, this condition normally impacts individual joints,” Nye said.
“The images here suggest the whole hand is involved, which doesn’t agree with the diagnosis of gout.”
“The most likely cause here is as it was six months ago and that King Charles is suffering from arthritis in the hands which seems to be worsening with time. Arthritis is an extremely common condition in people over 60 however can be extremely debilitating and can limit movement of the impacted joints.”
Nye continued: “Although treatments and medications can help the condition, ultimately, it will get worse over time. This is particularly true in joints that are used more frequently, for which we can agree the hand is one. The condition most commonly associated with swollen fingers is Dactylitis which again is most commonly seen in those with arthritis.”
King Charles has ‘sausage toes’
“Dactylitis is unique as the swelling remains even if the underlying inflammation is controlled, which is likely what we see here,” Nye concluded, adding that it’s important to point out that it isn’t a life-threatening condition.
Moreover, Nye believes King Charles is well aware of the causation behind his swollen fingers.
“Although this condition doesn’t lead me to believe anything sinister is underlying the King, it doesn’t mean the condition is something to be ignored, and I’m sure King Charles is fully aware of the cause of finger issues,” he told The Daily Star.
It’s easy to spot deviations concerning the monarch’s fingers, as King Charles rarely has gloves on. But it turns out that the fingers aren’t the only spot where he might have “sausage syndrome.”
It’s been revealed that King Charles also has similarly swollen toes, according to Nye. There have only been a few pictures taken of Charles where his bare feet can be seen. One of them is from when he visited a Sikh temple in New Delhi, India, back in November 2019. As it turns out, however, his feet have been swollen for quite some time – there was already evidence to suggest this back in 2006.
According to Nye, the afflictions are “significantly different in terms of whole body health.” He told the Daily Star that swelling in the legs, which appears to be on both sides in Charles’s case, “indicates a more systemic condition.”
Dr. Nye further said that the cause of the swelling depends on whether it is acute or chronic. That means if it develops suddenly and lasts a short period or develops gradually over an extended time. In Charles’ case, the latter seems more likely.
“Most women will be aware of leg and feet swelling during pregnancy, particularly during episodes of preeclampsia, and that remains one of the leading causes,” Dr. Nye said. “Clearly, we need to think differently here – acute swelling could indicate deep vein thrombosis or kidney disease.
“Common in older patients”
“If this is chronic, we could be looking at cardiovascular issues like heart failure, kidney disease, or liver disease.”
Dr. Nye continued: “However, it may simply be due to either/both continuous sitting with the legs bent for long periods, which is common in older patients who sit for prolonged periods, or prolonged standing as older people have a harder time returning blood from the feet and legs when standing due to normal changes in the cardiovascular system.”
He concluded: “We may additionally be seeing arthritis impacting in the ankle which would also cause swelling like this.”
Over the years, King Charles hasn’t suffered from significant health issues (so long as reports are to be trusted). One incident in the 1980s, however, almost killed the then-prince.
In Prince Harry’s memoir Spare – released earlier this year – the prince revealed many things about the royals, especially his father. The Duke of Sussex claimed that he didn’t even get a hug from Charles after he received the news of his mother, Princess Diana, had died. Harry alleged his father was largely absent while he and his brother William were grieving.
Indeed, Harry didn’t hold back when discussing his father in Spare. He also broke royal protocol after revealing how King Charles was in “constant pain” due to an old polo accident.
King Charles’ polo injuries
Polo has always been a traditional royal sport. Of course, charging around on horseback after a ball can be highly dangerous.
In 1991, Charles was in a polo accident that saw him kicked by a horse, suffering two fractures in his right arm. However, it didn’t heal properly, and the arm was reset three months later.
He aggravated his back injury three years later when he fell off a horse at Windsor.
“Prescribed by his physio, these exercises were the only effective remedy for the constant pain in Pa’s neck, and back,” Harry wrote.
Explaining how King Charles hurt his back, the Duke of Sussex noted: “Old polo injuries, mostly.” In a passage in Spare, Harry wrote about the scary incident that saw King Charles wounded during a polo match.
“As a boy, I’d seen Pa take [a hard] fall, the horse giving way, the ground simultaneously smacking and swallowing him. I remembered thinking: ‘Why’s Pa snoring?’ And then someone yelling: ‘He’s swallowed his tongue!” Harry wrote, “A quick-thinking player jumped from his horse and saved Pa’s life.”
However, bad luck on horseback didn’t end there for Charles.
In 1998, the then-prince broke a rib after falling from his horse while fox hunting. In 2021, Charles reportedly fractured a bone in his shoulder when he fell off another horse during another hunt. And even that wasn’t the end of it!
Briefly lost consciousness after falling from a horse
Later the same year, he was forced to spend the night at the hospital after falling off his horse while playing polo.
Charles was participating in a charity match in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, at the time of the accident. He briefly lost consciousness but luckily didn’t break any bones in the fall.
“He was unconscious for a very brief time, was taken to the local hospital, and is now being transferred to Cheltenham General Hospital where he will stay for a precautionary overnight stay,” spokesman Patrick Harrison said at the time.
It must be difficult for King Charles to deal with health issues while also fulfilling his duties as monarch. We’re all rooting for him, and believe he will do a fine job as king!
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