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Dr. Lewis, a concerned midwestern physician who cares about the effects of disease on the family of the afflicted as well as the patient, offers an encouraging overview of arthritis -- its mysterious origins, uncertain treatment, and unpredictable prognosis. She focuses especially on rheumatoid arthritis (a systemic condition three times more common in women than men) but also discusses gout, anklosing spondylitits, osteoarthritis and much rarer forms such as Hurler's Syndrome. Noting ruefully that medical opinion on what causes the onset of arthritic conditions is still confused and divided, she explains why infection, hormone imbalance, physical or mental trauma and autoimmunity (""civil war"" in the body's immunology system) all have their proponents with most current research concentrating on the last. As to relief -- well there's aspirin, the steroids, pheylbutazone and indomethacin; all may produce ""excellent results"" in minimizing pain; none of them arrests the disease and everything but aspirin can produce side effects. And then there are the hundreds of quack remedies from copper bracelets to visits to a worked-out uranium mine -- she deplores the money wasted but sympathizes with the long-suffering patient ready to try anything. Other legitimate aids may include corrective surgery for crippled hands, knees and hips and sometimes psychiatry to ease depression. But since all known treatments are somewhat iffy she stresses the importance of keeping up morale and maintaining normal activity as far as possible. Dr. Lewis, who also wrote A Doctor Looks at Heart Trouble (KR, 1970, p. 549), is more common-sensical than rigorous and this is far from a definitive work -- but she is open-minded and accessible. As good or better than Calabro & Wykert's The Truth About Arthritis Care (KR, 1971, p. 659).

Pub Date: July 13th, 1973
Publisher: Prentice-Hall