Book Review: Arthritis Sourcebook

Arthritis Sourcebook, edited by Amy L. Sutton

If you wanted to read a book that was a mile wide and six inches deep when it came to the question of arthritis in all of its many facets, this book is a worthwhile one to read.  Of course, if one reads a book like this, it is fairly obvious that one is either someone who suffers from one of the (many) inflammatory diseases that this book discusses or one is a medical professional involved in treating such problems, or both.  This book is not necessarily a fun read, but for those who are suffering from arthritis, it certainly does help reveal some of the connections that exist between various types of inflammatory problems, even if someone who is an expert on one type of arthritis (gout, to take an example not at random) is likely to already know more about how the disease progresses or how it can be managed than the book itself shows because of its commitment to a broad understanding.  This book is probably most helpful for those who are engaged in trying to keep a library for their own medical understanding on a broad level that deals with a variety of diseases rather than those who want to know a lot about specific problems.

This book is about 600 pages long and is divided into 6 parts and 54 chapters along with an index at the end.  After a short preface, the book begins with an introduction to arthritis (I) which discusses the bones, muscles, and joints of the body (1), an overview of arthritis and rheumatic diseases (2), as well as statistics on arthritis in the USA (3), risk factors (4), and joints affected by arthritis (5).  After that the author gives an introduction to various types of arthritis and related rheumatic diseases (II), like osteoarthritis (6), rheumatoid arthritis (7), childhood arthritis (8), ankylosing spondylitis (9), Behçet Disease (10), bone spurs, bursitis, and tendonitis (11), carpal tunnel syndrome (12), fibromyalgia (13), gout and pseudogout (14), infectious forms of arthritis related to Lyme disease, reactive arthritis, or septic arthritis (15), lupus (16), myositis (17), osteoporisis (18), Paget disease (19), polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis (20), psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (21), scleroderma (22), Sjörgren Syndrome (23), and arthritis related to other disorders like HIV and Inflammatory bowel disease (24).  After that the book discusses medical and surgical treatments for arthritis (III), namely dealing with one’s health care provider (25), diagnosing and treating arthritis (26), pain (27), osteoarthritis (28), and rheumatoid arthritis (29) medicines, injections to treat pain and inflammation (30), tools and devises for everyday tasks (31), helping treatment work (32), surgical procedures (33), joint replacement surgery (34), knee replacement (35), other types of joint surgery (36), and dealing with joint replacement (37).  The book then discusses self-management to reduce pain and inflammation (IV), with questions and answers about arthritis pain (38), tips on pain management (39), lifestyle changes to manage pain (40), sleep deprivation (41), weight management (42), exercise (43), nutrition (44), herbs and dietary supplements (45), and complementary and alternative medicine (46).  The book then discusses living with arthritis (V), including chapters on depression (47), stress (48), maintaining independence (49), relationships (50), pregnancy (51), and various financial, employment, and legal concerns (52).  Finally, the book closes with a couple of brief chapters on additional help and information (VI), such as a glossary of terms (53) and a directory of organizations to help people with various arthritis related diseases (54).

For me as a reader of this book, and as someone who both suffers with arthritis (namely gout) and who knows plenty of people who suffer with other rheumatic diseases, what struck me as the most important aspect of this book was the way in which it brought to my own attention a variety of diseases that I have thought to deal with individually and puts them in a category that shows that all of these different diseases relate to a similar problem of inflammation having gone awry.  To be sure, the body’s inflammatory response can go awry in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons, but seeing so many diseases that I and that others close to me have struggled with viewed as part of the same family of diseases certainly provided plenty of food for thought and reflection about the way that these diseases frequently involve stress and can cause a great deal of damage and tend to have to be managed because they cannot be entirely cured.  As arthritis and related rheumatic diseases result from the failure of the body’s own inflammatory response to work properly, and as no one has figured out a way to manually fix an inflammatory response that has gone awry, we are left with treating symptoms and managing chronic conditions rather than dealing with a cure to such crippling and debilitating diseases.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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