Relieving arthritis pain after a long day in the fields

Farm work can spur arthritis, but you can manage the pain with this helpful advice.

According to the National AgrAbility Program, approximately one-third of adult farmers suffer from arthritis. While not viewed as a traditional disability, farmers who suffer from arthritis may have a hard time accessing equipment, attaching implements or working with livestock. Simple pain management techniques can help.

Exercise can help lessen the disabling effects of arthritis. Losing just one pound of weight can lessen the pressure on joints by four to six pounds. Low impact exercises can assist in increasing strength and range of motion. Recommended exercises include walking, cycling and swimming, for 30-minute intervals three times per week, and remember to include a warm up and cool down.

Non-medicinal pain relief can be helpful as well. Heat therapy is best for relieving soreness and stiffness. Systemic treatment such as warm showers or whirlpools (20 minutes or less) penetrate deeply, while localized treatments such as heating pads increase blood flow and oxygen to painful locations. Cold therapy helps with swelling or sudden/acute pain. This type of therapy works best at the onset of the pain and is most effective in 15- to 20-minute intervals repeated every 1-2 hours.

As always, listen to your body and consult your doctor before starting any therapy program. For more information contact your local Arthritis Foundation Chapter, Michigan AgrAbility, or visit Arthritis and Agriculture

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