Working with polymer clay is quite hard on hands, and many clay artists end up with stiff joints or other hand problems.
We do a lot of manipulation of the clay, pinching and squeezing and reshaping, and the clay we use is generally quite stiff - a bit like plasticine.
This process isn't really something you can get around or leave to machinery to do, unlike conditioning the clay which can be accomplished in several different ways.
If you already have arthritis or sore joints, particularly around your thumbs, you may decide that this isn't the craft for you.
If, on the other hand, you have skin irritation on your hands, a pair of vinyl or latex gloves would probably help. Many polymer artists wear them - mainly to avoid getting finger prints all over their clay. (They have the added advantage of preventing the dreaded 'clay filled fingernails' - which is not a good look!)