Health Tips

Calcium, which is found in dairy products, leafy vegetables, shellfish, and other calcium-fortified foods (orange juice, breads, cereals) is one of the main building blocks of bone. Vitamin D is important in building strong bones because it helps the body absorb the calcium from foods. Make sure to get the recommended daily dietary values of both Calcium and Vitamin D to prevent bone loss.

Many different drugs are used to treat arthritis and related diseases. The ones taken will depend on the type of arthritis that is diagnosed. Some are available without a prescription while others must be prescribed by a doctor. Always check with a doctor before taking any medication including over-the-counter medications, herbal supplements, and dietary aids.

As the spring season begins, keep in mind a few simple solutions that can be implemented to help control joint stress and pain in farming situations: wearing quality, non-slip footwear; using appropriate assistive aids; proper posture when sitting for long periods of time in tractors; using the largest joint possible to complete a task; avoid gripping and grasping for long periods of time; simplify jobs and tasks and pace the amount of time working throughout the day; avoid jumping off of tractors or wagons.

Pacing your activities can be hard in a farming operation. However, by arranging tasks throughout the day based on type, location, and longevity, you can save energy. Pacing helps protect the joints from the stress of repeated tasks and helps reduce fatigue. Alternate heavy or repeated tasks with easy ones, and change tasks often. Plan rest breaks in between tasks.

At some point, an assistive device may be be needed to maneuver around the farm or to complete a task. Walking devices such as canes or hand rails, all-terrain vehicles, and modified pathways can make traveling around the farm less painful. Longer handles and padded grips can be added to tools. There are many specialized assistive devices that can be utilized depending on the severity of the arthritis and the types of jobs needed to be done.

Vegetable and flower gardens are an important part of America’s agricultural heritage. These pleasures don’t have to be given up because of arthritis pain. In fact, gardening is a great activity for maintaining joint flexibility, range of motion, and quality of life. For a free Gardening & Arthritis brochure, or for more information on other agricultural topics, please call1-800-783-2342, ext. 200. Refer to the August newsletter in the Resources page for more health tips on gardening.

Weight control means staying close to a body’s recommended weight, or losing weight if a person is overweight now. Weight control helps reduce the risk of arthritis, specifically in the knee joints. Losing weight will decrease the amount of pressure and stress placed on the knee and hip joints.

Using heat or cold over joints or muscles may give short-term relief from pain and stiffness. Using heat or cold to help prepare for exercise is also beneficial. Heat helps relax aching muscles while cold numbs the area to reduce the feeling of pain and decreases swelling and inflammation.

For many Americans, the joy of outdoor activities doesn’t lessen just because the weather turns colder. Hiking, camping, golfing, biking, and other outdoor activities are great ways to exercise while enjoying the beautiful natural settings of rural America. These pleasures don’t have to be given up because of arthritis pain. Hiking and biking are great activities for maintaining joint flexibility, range of motion, and quality of life if they are within the body’s physical limitations. Refer to the December newsletter in the Resources page for more health tips on outdoor recreation.

As the harvesting season is adding many hours to a farmer’s work week, it is very important to recognize signs of weakness, exhaustion, and stress. Combating these factors as early as possible will make for a more successful and healthy harvest season.

Seasonal changes in the weather, and the amount of time spent indoors and outdoors can drastically affect the impact of arthritis. There are many small accommodations that can ease arthritis pain throughout the year. Proper diet and nutrition can keep pain at a minimum, as can proper exercise. Consult with a physician about what daily exercises can be added to a daily routine.

Wintertime brings on a season of rest for many farmers. Corn and soybean harvests are complete, and spring planting is a few months off. However, many agriculturalists don’t take the time they need to rest their bodies during this time. The winter months are a perfect time to sit down and evaluate your farming operation and the effects that arthritis may impose on your lifestyle. Small work accomodations can reduce the stress on joints from the normal routine of everyday chores and thus reduce pain from arthritis. For a free “Managing Your Activities” brochure, or for more information on other agricultural topics, call 1-800-783-2342, ext. 212.