Autumn is here and if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the cooler weather may bring temporary relief before the harsh winter. Gardening in the Autumn can keep your joints healthy and your kitchen full.
Gardening, in general, has health benefits for those diagnosed with RA and when you use the right tools and methods in the garden, you may be surprised to experience some relief from RA pain.
Gardening and RA
Gardening keeps you physically active, which has been proven to increase endorphins and allows you to cope with stress. Physical activity can be useful in helping those who suffer from depression and anxiety, both of which are linked to RA. Additionally, certain foods and eating a well-balanced diet can help reduce the damaging inflammation of RA. Some vegetables to consider are carrots, kale, radishes, snow peas, broccoli, and baby spinach.
Gardening Made Easier for RA
Having the right tools, that are RA-friendly, will help keep you gardening while being careful not to aggravate your RA inflammation further.
- Adaptable Gardening– Whether you are starting a new garden, or are making updates to an old one, this is the opportunity to make it easier. Raised beds, vertical gardens, hanging baskets, and containers make it easier to access.
- Tools– Choose garden tools that reduce the chances of stressing your RA, while maximizing the effort to cut down on repetitive movements. Look for handles that are ergonomically designed to hold joints in a neutral position during use. Pistol-type grips are a great option. “O” grip handles using both hands make it easier to grasp.
- Bulb Planter– Choose one with a long handle to help you dig small holes from a standing position. A shovel step is also significant to stand on when needing to dig bigger holes with a shovel.
- Watering– Use a lightweight coiled hose that won’t tangle for handheld watering; a soaker hose, or a professionally installed watering system if you can spring for it. These are much easier to use than a watering can which can strain.
- Weed Barriers– Applying a weed barrier with mulch will help reduce the amount of weeding you have to do. Organic weed killers can take care of any stragglers.
- Pruning Tools– Loppers and pruners that are power assist or are spring-loaded reduce the amount of force required to trim plants.
How to Help the Pain
Gardening keeps you moving every day and eating the food you grow will help you keep a healthier diet. These are just a few of the things that will help reduce the severity of RA flare-ups. Dressing in layers to keep the body warm and maintaining a healthy weight are a few more. Although RA flare-ups can be unpredictable, by doing these things, even a reduction of frequency will help.
The chronic pain from RA can be a challenge. Clinical studies are now enrolling looking into new treatment options. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with RA, clinical studies may be an option for you. Qualified participants receive study-related care and medication, along with reimbursement for time and travel. To read more about our enrolling RA studies, click HERE.