I figured it might be helpful to others going through the same thing to at least read about it and perhaps put some fears to rest.
It's about the joint pain, bumps, little pus filled pimple like eruptions and the arthritis like swelling associated with pricks from your roses and rose bushes. Especially the Southern favorite - "Double Knock-Out Roses" which I found to be the worst offenders.
I'm a Northern girl, transplanted to the South and inherited a backyard full of gorgeous, huge, prolific roses. When I decided to do the pruning of them after our first year in our current home, I wore gloves, got my pruning sheers and went to town. Sure, I got some pricks but it's rather unavoidable and really... no big deal. Right? Wrong. Not seriously wrong... but just a little bit wrong.
Getting pricked by rose bushes usually isn't a big deal but this time I noted that I broke out in little red bumps. Those hard little bumps had a white 'head' on them but it wasn't a pimple, you couldn't 'pop' it and if you tried, just a clear liquid came out... not really pus. Just the clear fluid that means you aren't getting anything 'out' of it and doing more damage than good.
Those bumps also gave way to swelling and joint pain! Wowza!!! My knuckles hurt, ached and were swollen. My right hand was pretty much useless and I just kept it curled up like a claw as it was so swollen and painful.
I feared something serious and went online to see if others were experiencing what I was. I did find some information (this would have been around 2012) but many rose bush enthusiasts had never heard of it, others thought the person questioning this was simply dealing with a normal 'rose bush thorn prick' and didn't understand these are different. Still others posted about going to the doctor - and doctors, not having a clue, were over prescribing all sorts of things and doing scans and tests and such.... and thinking it was arthritis; making them use all sorts of creams and one woman even ended up with her doctor insisting on minor surgery on the little bumps. I won't even GO THERE because that was just ridiculous. But anyway!
So I kept researching, kept an eye on my own and figured some things out. Now, it's 7 years later... and yep, if I'm not careful I still get some of these arthritic causing pain and swelling, hard bumps but it's something that I know is fairly common with certain kinds of roses and in certain areas of the country.
First - know that the stiffness and pain in the joints, unfortunately, can last a month. But it does go away. It's not forever!
It certainly felt like it! Use heat and numbing gels to help if you wish. Ice if that seems to work better for you. Basically, it's like you aged overnight and now have arthritic hands for awhile. It's weird... especially if you are only 30 years old and looking at your hands reminds you of your 94 year old grandmothers hands.
Your body also seems to be build up a bit of a resistance! I was SO happy to find this out over the past 7 years.
That first time was brutal. My hands were full of bumps, my fingers unusable, my joints so achy. And it lasted forever... or felt like it. Over a month. My husband also had helped trim a bit and although didn't have as many bumps as I did, he also had one or two that were near the joints in his fingers and were swollen and painful.
The second time and even third, no matter how careful I was, it's inevitable you'll get pricked and I did. And yes... same thing.
But then, after a few seasons, I realized although I was getting the same amount of pricks, they were going away faster. They were also not causing me the long lasting (month long) painful joints. The time got shorter...
And now, by the 7th season, although I'm SO incredibly careful trimming - I don't even grab the stems with my fingers but snip, and then pick up the trimmed piece with my pruning sheers to carry it to my 'burn' pile, I still will get a few pricks. But I'm happy to say that after 7 seasons, I rarely am bothered by them.
It's a prick with a bit of blood, which if I see it, I'll squeeze it a bit to help it bleed freely to naturally wash it out. Then later, I obviously wash my hands very well, working the soap lather well to also help clean the area. Sometimes I'll dab a bit of colloidal silver cream on the spots to help kill off any bacteria.
By that evening or the next day there might be a red bump, and it might even get the little white head on it (that looks like a pimple, but isn't). Sometimes the area may still get red or a bit swollen but I just keep flexing my hand open and closed and go with life....
And then realize a day or two later that there is only a tiny red period sized mark left and I hadn't felt it or noticed it for a day or so. And again, go on with life and don't think about it and then... I remember, but it's gone.
Apparently my body has slowly been building up immunity to the bacteria and/or fungus that the thorns have. And for that I'm glad... but I also am SO VERY CAREFUL now that I usually only get a few pricks as compared to the 20 I probably had that first year.
I guess the bottom line for me is that I'm EXTRA careful when I have to do the cutting back and trimming of the Double Blooming Knock Out Roses. The other roses I have don't seem to cause the same reaction as the Knock Outs do.
I wear gloves, use my pruning sheers to pick up and carry the branches. I try very hard NOT to get pricked at all, not even a little. But when I do, which obviously happens, I know that now, after 7 years, about 50% will turn into the eruptions, cause redness, pain and/or swelling. But with a little anti-bacterial cream and time... it will go away and all will return to normal.
It isn't long lasting and it's not actually arthritis.