Gardening with Arthritis - Any tips???

Youngstown, OH

I was wondering if any of you have tips on gardening with arthritis. I am in my mid forties and have had osteoarthritis in my knees and spine for almost twenty years. I used to be able to work all day in my garden and still be productive without all the aches and pains I get now just after a couple of hours of gardening. So, I am seeking suggestions on keeping active while still being productive outdoors. I made the mistake of overdoing it by working all day only to hardly be able to walk for the next week a few months ago. Then I had to be on strong prescription anti-inflammatories for a month and I felt so tired. The thing with arthritis, at least for me, is that once you get warmed up you feel like you can take on the world until your body cools down later and you find yourself hardly able to function. I was thinking that maybe an hour a day might work better. I have a desk job and work eight hours or more per day so it is tricky getting time to garden in the evening sometimes, but I must keep going. I welcome your thoughts and suggestions.

Cuyahoga Falls, OH(Zone 5a)

suegardens2 - I hear ya ! I have had osteoarthritis for 26 years. Ohio's weather doesn't help any, either. One day it is 80* and sunny, the next it is 40* and raining. And humidity makes it worse. Changes in the barometer makes it worse.

I tried the anti-inflammatory meds too. They either made me so sleepy I couldn't function, or they just plain didn't work.
what does work for me is Vicodin. I got some from oral surgery years ago. I discovered that half a Vicodin will ease my back pain for 8 hours, and it doesn't make me sleepy. Now, my doctor is willing to give me 20 pills each spring, and no more. I only take one when necessary, and they last all summer, enabling me to garden in relative comfort.

Another thing I have learned, is to organize my garden tasks and not tackle the whole garden at once. For instance, I might pull weeds for an hour, then go back indoors. Or I might deadhead for an hour, followed by a nice hot shower. If I work too long and too hard, I pay for it with pain for days.

The heat is another consideration. I just can't tolerate the heat anymore. I am retired, so I am able to get outside first thing in the morning before the sun is shining. You might find it worthwhile to garden at dusk for the same reason. We need to pick our times for our comfort.

One more idea - I don't garden and do other heavy chores on the same day. If if is laundry day, it is not gardening day.
If it is grocery day, the garden can wait.

Good luck ! I am looking forward to more comments.

Youngstown, OH

Thanks for your suggestions. The doctor has prescribed vicodin which I take only in extreme cases and 30 vicodin last me about a year. You're right about not making you sleepy. It really does provide good pain relief when nothing else works. I am going to try to moderate my activity so that I don't bite off more than I can chew on any particular day. I also think gardening at dusk will help me a great deal. I have been restricting my activities to about an hour every other day between 5 and 7 pm followed by a hot shower. I rest a little between activities, etc. and that seems to help. When I finish I don't feel like doing anything else though, like laundry for example. I guess I have to just realize that I'm old...lol. Thanks again.

Sioux City, IA(Zone 4b)

I don't have arthritis but I would be sore if I spent the day gardening! Good for you for keeping active. I looked up information recently about arthritis for a friend and remaining active seems to be key. Lack of use of those joints will just make arthritis worse...which you already know. But over exertion causes the inflammation...which you already know. Do you do any regular exercise other than gardening? You might consider getting some advice from your doctor or a physical therapist about a little daily exercise routine you could do to start your day and also at the end of the day (after your hot shower might be good too). Yoga can be good for arthritis...that is why my friend was asking me, because she knows I do yoga. The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center website has a good amount of information about yoga if you want to read a little about it. Just type yoga into that websites search engine.

Cuyahoga Falls, OH(Zone 5a)

High yesterday - 92*. High today - 65* with a possible low tonight of 45*. This is why we hurt in Ohio :)

Sioux City, IA(Zone 4b)

I hear ya. We have had some of those wild temp. swings here too.

Youngstown, OH

Thanks for the yoga tip Merigold. I hadn't looked into it, but I will research it. I am glad I'm not the only one that hurts after a day of gardening...lol. I appreciate your suggestions. I was good today and only spent an hour in the garden. Your right about the fluctuating temperatures Countrymom. I am in Struthers, OH and it's so cold today compared to yesterday. Thanks for putting things in perspective.

Cuyahoga Falls, OH(Zone 5a)

suegardens2 - I'm glad you were able to work outside yesterday. I did too !

Youngstown, OH

Good for you Countrymom. We have rain forcasted for this week, so I thought it was best to get things in the ground. This is the second day of rain now, with more predicted. Well at least it's good for the plants although my aching joints don't like it...lol.

High Springs, FL(Zone 8b)

Suegardens2 - I second the suggestion of trying yoga. It's been shown to be a tremendous help for arthritic conditions in terms of increased mobility and pain alleviation. I don't have arthritis myself, just the usual stiffness that comes from being over 50, and years of working at a desk. Six months ago I started taking a weekly yoga/pilates class and the difference is amazing. (Once a week is not really enough for optimum results, but it was more than I was doing before!) My range of motion has increased and nearly all of those nagging little "twinges" and aches have totally disappeared.

The most important thing is that you don't get discouraged because you can't hold certain poses, or you're not as flexible as everyone else in the class. It's all done at your own pace and level of ability. Hope you find some relief, whatever methods you use!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Try Earthing... going barefoot. Sounds kooky, I know... but read this:
http://www.radiantlifecatalog.com/the_radiant_earth

Sioux City, IA(Zone 4b)

Kooky but certainly interesting...and not much to loose, just take off the shoes!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I certainly felt better after going barefoot most of 2 days working in the garden. Also felt energized, which doesn't much happen at my age (70).

Youngstown, OH

I will definately try the earthing... simple, so simple, we never think of it. Makes perfect sense though. I am looking into yoga as well. There is a lady that teaches yoga that you can actually do at the workplace. She works for a non profit and gives demonstrations on how to release stress, etc. and do easy yoga exercises at your desk. Thanks to all of you for your suggestions.

High Springs, FL(Zone 8b)

Darius, earthing sounds like a neat idea! I'd have to find some industrial-strength repellent to keep the fire ants off, though. They find me no matter how covered up I am...

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