K-State Research and Extension News
September 09, 2013
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Make Farming with Arthritis Easier

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Arthritis, one of the most common chronic disease conditions in the United States, has a profound impact on farmers by reducing mobility, physical strength and the ability to complete routine tasks. Farming with arthritis means daily changes in joint pain and mobility which can affect completion of even the most basic farm chores.

During Kansas Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 15-21, Kerri Ebert, coordinator of the Kansas AgrAbility Project, reminds farmers to focus on their health and safety.

Arthritis diagnosis, treatment and care should be directed by health care professionals, Ebert said, but simplifying chores and using assistive solutions can help reduce joint stress. Kansas AgrAbility helps farmers identify and prioritize chore and equipment modifications to safely accommodate arthritis.

Modifying tasks and equipment won’t reverse joint damage, but they can help prevent further damage. To accommodate arthritis-related limitations on the farm, Kansas AgrAbility encourages farmers to consider assistive technology solutions:

  • Use wheels to move feed, tools or other equipment to eliminate heavy lifting and carrying. Wheeled assistive devices range from a simple wheel barrow to a motorized utility vehicle or golf cart, depending on needs and budget.
  • Use extended handles on tools to help conserve energy. Less force will be needed to manipulate objects.
  • Choose ergonomically designed, lightweight tools to reduce joint stress, pain and fatigue.
  • Use spring-loaded, self-adjusting, or ratcheting tools to reduce pressure on joints while increasing leverage and force with minimal pressure.
  • Add mirrors to the inside and outside of tractor cabs to reduce the need to twist to see out the back window.
  • Install spinner knobs and handles to help with limited grasp and range of motion on the steering wheel. Thicker grips on hand tools also help with grip.
  • Place cushioned mats on the floor in workshop areas to help reduce joint and back pain.

Many farm-related tasks can be modified slightly so a farmer with arthritis can perform them more easily, Ebert said. It is important to develop an effective treatment plan with a medical professional, follow the plan, and respect your body’s limits.

For more information about farming with arthritis, visit the Arthritis & Agriculture website or call 800-783-2342. For more information about farming with any disability visit the Kansas AgrAbility website or call 800-526-3648 or 800-825-4264 and ask for a Kansas AgrAbility Assistive Technology Ag Specialist. Kansas AgrAbility, based at Kansas State University, is part of the K-State Research and Extension network of programs.


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Kerri Ebert
K-State Research & Extension News

Kerri Ebert, Kansas AgrAbility Project Coordinator - kebert@ksu.edu - 785-532-2976