Posted by: Kelley Dees | November 18, 2010

Dealing with Arthritis

Arthritis is a condition that can reduce strength and mobility for completing routine chores, especially those chores that are required on the farm or ranch. Arthritis is one of the most common disabling conditions and refers to more than 100 different illnesses, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis.

  • 46 million people in the U.S. have doctor diagnosed arthritis.
  • More than half of the individuals who have arthritis are younger than 65 years old.
  • 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 U.S.!

The problem with arthritis is that many agricultural workers have arthritis, but are unaware of it, therefore are unable to take measures to prevent being slowed down by this condition. The term arthritis simply means an inflammation of a joint (anywhere your body bends, like elbows, knees, fingers, etc.).

Signs and Symptoms of arthritis:

  • Persistent pain
  • Stiffness, swelling, redness, or heat in the joint
  • Difficulty performing daily activities
  • Difficulty moving the joint
  • Possible fatigue, weight loss, or nausea

Early detection of arthritis is key—if persistent pain lasts for more than 2 weeks, see a specialist.

With arthritis, many tasks that were once simple may no longer be carried out because of pain and stiffness in a farmer’s joints. Getting help from others may be beneficial, but is not always an option for long-term solutions. There are many assistive devices that can be used and modifications that can be made to make jobs easier and less painful. Here are some examples:

  • Ergonomic tools
  • Addition of tractor steps
  • Portable/adjustable stools
  • Knee pads/gardening pads
  • Enlarged tool handles/gloves
  • Automatic and self-adjusting tools
  • Automated gates
  • Automated hitches
  • Push feed carts
  • Tractor steering wheel knob/enlarged handles
  • Suspension seat/seat cushion/adjustable arm rests in machinery
  • Additional mirrors on tractors and other large equipment
  • Man lifts for tractors
  • Hand controls

For more information on arthritis & agriculture, visit the Arthritis Foundation.

This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.

This information is adapted from the Arthritis Foundation and Arthritis & Agriculture.



  1. Hi there, I found your blog via Google while searching for first aid for a heart attack and your post looks very interesting for me..

    • Thank you! Glad you found something you could use!

  2. I’ve been wanting to post something like this on my website and you have me an idea. Cheers.

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