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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Arthritis: The pain and farming

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Numerous Americans are affected with arthritis, which is an inflammation of a joint. It is especially shocking to me that one-third of all adult farm and ranch operators are affected by arthritis. Working in the agricultural field 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 difficult to do repeatedly throughout the day, but are made even more difficult when you are dealing with arthritis.

Arthritis is one of the most common disabling conditions and 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 lasts only a short time and does not cause permanent damage. It is, however, painful.

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. Occasionally, arthritis can cause fatigue, weight loss, and nausea. 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 and when given the opportunity, use assistive aids. 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. When doing tasks, use your larger joints and avoid putting stress on smaller joints. Throughout the day, pace yourself and try to mix difficult tasks in with simpler ones, so you do not overload your body with stress. As with any health issue, maintaining a proper weight is a good idea. If you take time out of your day to exercise and maintain a healthy weight, you will help protect your joints and strengthen the muscles around them.

Arthritis can be detrimental to anyone's daily life, so it is important that if you think you might have it to talk to your physician. If you would like to learn more about arthritis and agriculture, check out the USDA AgrAbility Project. You can find information about the project at www.agrability. Indiana's AgrAbility Chapter, the Arthritis Foundation, can provide you with information on arthritis and agriculture along with monthly health tips. The Arthritis Foundation can be found at www.arthritis-ag.org.

As always, Purdue Extension is available to offer a variety of opportunities and knowledge to farmers, homeowners and business people alike concerning agriculture, horticulture or natural resources, please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly via e-mail at smith535@purdue.edu.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Saturday -- Opening Day of Community Farmer's Market of Owen County, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Courthouse in Spencer,

* Saturday -- Courthouse Centennial Celebration, 1 p.m., Courthouse in Spencer,

* May 3 -- Ergonomics Workshop, 6:30 p.m., Vincennes. Call 812-882-3509 to register,

* May 6 -- Ergonomics Workshop, 6:30 p.m., Tipton,

* May 13 -- Poultry Program, 6:30 p.m., Owen County Extension Office, and

* May 14 -- Area Share-The-Fun Contest, Edgewood High School.