A fourth of all adult South Dakotans are affected by arthritis and nearly half of them are limited because of it. We have more on one woman's battle with arthritis and how exercising in warm water helps ease the pain in her joints.
At the age of 46 Karen Brauer has already suffered with arthritis for 13 years, proof that you are never too young to be diagnosed with a disease that can be debilitating if you let it.
Karen Brauer says, "It is pretty wide spread. The only places that don't bother me are my elbows and shoulders. Most of my other major joints are still flexible, just painful."
Karen has found that going to Avera McKennan's warm water therapy class for arthritics 3 times a week will benefit her 3 fold.
Sue Kuehn is an Avera McKennan Aquatic Specialist. She says, "The Arthritis Foundation says if you can move your joints through a range of motion once a day you can maintain that range of motion. Well, if we can do 10 to 15 reps of that there is a chance they can improve that range of motion not just maintain it."
Karen says, "I do need the motion and the stretching. I will feel a lot less stiff and it's earlier to walk and I sleep better at night."
The pool Karen is exercising in is at body temperature. That heat helps her relax which makes it easier to move. The one thing that is especially hard to do on land because of the disease is also the best medicine in fighting the pain it causes.
Sue Kuehn says, "We work on balance in here. If you are stiff and sore balance can become an issue. The water is very forgiving. If you start to lose your balance, you have more time to recover and if you do fall you're going to get wet, but you're not going to get hurt."
Arthritis not only causes joint pain, it can a real pain to deal with. Getting in the pool is the best part of Karen's day because it helps her get through that day mobility in tact.
The Johnson Aquatic Center is located at basement level in Avera McKennan. It is open to the public at a cost of $30 for 10 uses. Call 877-AT-AVERA to sign up or get more information.