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May is Arthritis Awareness Month

May is Arthritis Awareness Month.

Click here to listen to a PSA put out by the Arthritis Foundation: AgrAbility: 100 Percent Farmer
What is Arthritis?
  • Arthritis refers to an “inflammation of a joint.” The body attacks itself causing inflammation, pain, and degeneration of the connective tissue. Most arthritis diseases are chronic and have no cure.
  • 46 Million people in the US have doctor diagnosed arthritis.
  • More than half of the individuals who have arthritis are 65 and younger.
  • Overall, women are affected more than men.
  • Arthritis is second only to heart disease as a cause of work disability.
  • Arthritis is considered one of the leading causes of disability in the US!
  • While there is no cure, there are things you can do to make it better. Talk with an AgrAbility staff member to find out more.

If you are experiencing chronic pain, it is always a good idea to see your Doctor. If you are in immediate or excruciating pain, you should see your Doctor right away.

Farmers work hard, and that hard work can take a toll on a farmer’s body, sometimes in the form of arthritis. Here are some general tips for managing your arthritis as a farmer. Keep in mind there are many different types of arthritis, and these solutions are only meant to be a guideline. If you are in pain, you should stop what you are doing.

  1. Schedule stretching & resting breaks every 15 minutes
  2. Make time to do low-impact body strengthening activities (swimming, walking, etc., 30 minutes/3x week). Keeping your joints loose and active may help manage your pain (sometimes, being still can cause stiffness and pain).

    Photo from the National AgrAbility Project

  3. Healthy eating and weight management: Every extra pound you carry adds four pounds of additional stress to your knees and six times the pressure on your hips. Talk with your Doctor about what a healthy weight for your body type is, and work with your Doctor to reach that goal.
  4. Consider your environment: Does your tractor’s seat vibrate? Prolonged vibrations to your body can irritate joints and muscles. Is the tool you’re using difficult to grip? Try wrapping duct tape or an ace bandage around the handles to make it easier to grip. Does your tractor/farm vehicle have mirrors, or are you constantly craning your neck to look behind and all around you? Consider installing rearview mirrors. What other environmental factors can you think of that might impact arthritis?
For your specific type of pain caused by arthritis, talk with your Doctor. You can also contact Maine AgrAbility  to get in touch with an Occupational Therapist, who may be able to help you figure out the best ways to use your body in your environment to maintain a pain-free (or as close to it as you can!) work day. All services provided by Maine AgrAbility are free.

*Information is from the Arthritis and Agriculture, a project in conjunction with the Arthritis Foundation and the National AgrAbility Project. Learn more at their website: http://www.arthritis-ag.org/

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