Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 March 2018

The hips don't lie: Farmers in for body shock

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

I was ringing around the other day, talking to a few people about various goings on in the farming scene at the moment. You could classify it as two hours of idle chat but usually this kind of banter yields a few stories -- not all of which are printable, of course!

Stories aside, it's the kind of donkey work that can prove very rewarding, if only because it gives you a sense of what people are talking about and, more importantly, what they're giving out about.

Nearing the end of the round of calls, however, I was beginning to get a bit worried. Everybody appeared too contented. This has the makings of a very quiet August from a news point of view, I thought to myself, and we are not even finished with July.

But the Lord has a way of throwing lifelines to struggling opinion-piece writers and they sometimes come from the most unusual of places.

The source this week was the orthopaedic hospital in Croom, Co Limerick. A fine establishment, its surgeons have been keeping the men and women of the midwest mobile for generations.


My contact was in for such an operation. When I rang him last week, he was recovering after having one of his hips replaced. Nothing special in that, you might say. But out of the five patients in his ward, four of them were farmers.

It may have been merely a coincidence, but anecdotal evidence would suggest that farmers are a very popular constituency with artificial hip manufacturers and surgeons who make a tidy living out of keeping them going.

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In fact, it would make for a very interesting research project to find out what percentage of farmers end up needing hip or knee replacements.

I'd wager that it's probably huge. Because, when you think about it, farmers give their bodies some abuse.

Working long hours in banged-up tractors with bad seats, constantly clutching, hopping up and down off machinery, travelling at a half trot for most of the day. Is it any wonder the hips give out?

And the frightening thing is that the incidence of hip and knee replacements could actually increase.

As my man in Croom observed: "With all this talk of milk quotas going and fellas increasing cow numbers from 70 or 80 to 150 and 200, you'd be inclined to advise them to book in for the hip replacements now because they'll all need them, come 55 or 60 years of age."

Indo Farming