May is arthritis awareness month

Reminders for those farming with arthritis.

While it may not be seen as a traditional disability, Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. According to the Arthritis Foundation, May is Arthritis Awareness Month. The Arthritis Foundation is promoting ways to raise awareness of the disease and how to live with it by encouraging people to take action against arthritis pain. There are many types of arthritis, but the most common ones include: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, and Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Recognizing the symptoms of arthritis is an important first step for living with the disease. Some symptoms include:

  • Constant, recurring pain - This can range from annoying to debilitating.
  • Fatigue - From general tiredness to exhaustion, this can affect your daily routine or ability to work.
  • Inflammation - Swelling, stiffness, joint pain and redness all are indications of inflammation.
  • Depression - Always check with your doctor to help with depression symptoms.

These symptoms all come into play when looking at farming with arthritis, as the occurrence of any of these symptoms can make it very difficult to access equipment, work with animals or even just get around the farm. Equipment modifications are always a possibility and can help you maintain your ability to work. There are also steps you can take to alleviate symptoms. Some examples include:

  • Eat - A healthy, well balanced diet.
  • Stay active - Exercise can increase your range of motion, endurance and strength as well as help you lose weight. Remember that losing 1 pound of weight takes 4 pounds of pressure off your joints. Exercise can also help alleviate stress. Be sure to participate in low-impact exercises such as walking, biking or swimming over more high-impact exercises.
  • Don’t overdo it - This is easier said than done for farmers at this time of year, but remember to take short breaks and stretch out your muscles.

While there is no cure for arthritis, there are many treatments available. Consult your doctor for options, and visit the Arthritis Foundation for more information or to find local information. Information related to farming with arthritis can be found at the Arthritis & Agriculture site.