Clay County

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Arthritis and Farming

June 26, 2014

Arthritis is an inflammation of a joint which impacts numerous farmers and gardeners on a daily basis. Working on a farm requires individuals to climb up steep slopes, lift odd and heavy objects, walk long distances holding heavy items, and grip items tightly for extended periods of time. All of those motions are made even more difficult when you are dealing with arthritis.

Arthritis refers to over 100 rheumatic diseases. Some of the most common rheumatic diseases include: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis. The breakdown of cartilage is associated with osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can be caused by the frequent lifting of heavy objects and the repeated use of vibrating machinery or the bending that farmers do on a daily basis. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that primarily affects the thin membrane that lines and lubricates a joint. It can affect individuals of all ages, but is more likely to occur in women in their 20s and 30s. 

When certain muscles or tendons are stressed by too much lifting, carrying or throwing, or by constantly gripping an item, farmers can develop bursitis or tendonitis. Usually bursitis or tendonitis last only a short time and does not cause permanent damage.

There are a number of signs and symptoms associated with arthritis. They can include persistent pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, or heat in a joint, and difficulty performing daily activities. Additionally you would notice difficulty moving a joint. If you notice any of these symptoms lasting more than two weeks, it is very important to see your physician and get help. 

There is good news though. Farmers can take precautions to try to prevent arthritis. For starters, farmers should wear high quality, non-slip footwear. When riding in the tractor or a truck for a long period of time, use good posture. Try not to grip and hold onto items for long periods of time. Use a two wheel cart to move bags of feed or other heavy items. Purchase and use ergonomically designed lightweight tools with long handles. Add extra mirrors and steps to machinery along with swivel mounts for seats. 

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay Co. or 829-5020 in Owen Co. or reach me directly at Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

June 28—Nuisance Wildlife, 10-10:45 am, Owen Co. Public Library

July 4 – Independence Day, Extension Office will be closed

July 5-12 – Owen County Fair

July 9 -  Herbs & Flower Arranging, 6-6:45 pm, Owen Co. Public Library

July 12-18 – Clay County 4-H Fair

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