Good Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis book review

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Good Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis-reviewThe book review I dreaded

“Good Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis Is More Possible Now Than Ever Before!” Can this cover claim be upheld? For months, I’ve put off reviewing this book published by the Arthritis Foundation because I hate to sound negative. Why should I feel like I am obligated to praise a book?

Whoever wrote the cover blurbs sure flattered the writers. Here is what they claim is inside:

Front cover: “Find the Tools You Need to Ease Pain, Reduce Joint Damage, Improve Mobility, Relieve Stress.”

Back cover: “In this book you’ll discover… Easy ways to improve your flexibility, reduce pain and stiffness, and manage stress.”

It sounds like Good Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis is a wonderful prescription – if it delivers.

Here’s what I didn’t like about Good Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis:

  • The tone is impractical: I felt like the writers hadn’t talked with anyone living with moderate to severe Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  • Some information was outdated. The internet keeps up with research better than books can.
  • They gave too much ink to the notion that Rheumatoid Arthritis pain is subjective and can be controlled by techniques like mental imagery and self hypnosis. This is of limited use to people experiencing severe pain from a damaging disease.
  • They presented an unrealistic view of exercise, even using the dreaded phrase “Use it or lose it.”
  • Have you ever heard of “rheumatoid personality”? They present it as what some doctors believe to be the source of Rheumatoid Arthritis pain. Can you believe this?
  • There’s more, but I want to keep this short. So, just one more thing: it’s printed on really heavy paper, so it’s too heavy to hold in our hands.

What’s good about Good Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis?

  • The authors expect doctors to talk to patients like real persons, even providing forms to prepare for appointments. However, they do not come with any guarantee of doctor cooperation.
  • They approve of the use of narcotics for Rheumatoid Arthritis pain which is not controlled in other ways. This has been a controversial topic over the years. Perhaps that is related to some of the concepts discussed in the last section. What is controversial about pain control? Nothing, if the alleged pain is seen as actual pain.
  • I infer that they envision patients as managers of their own treatment programs. Although there is much resistance to this idea in the medical community, it is the only path to “Good living with Rheumatoid Arthritis.”
  • The book includes a few short vignettes from people living with RA. This is probably the best part. It is almost like getting a little page from a blog. They are more realistic. One nurse even tells how RA made her blind in one eye and affected the adjacent ear.

Does Good Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis deliver?

Of course I also like the promises on the book cover. Too bad they couldn’t truly deliver on them. They should not feel bad about that because “easy” answers for RA are impossible to deliver. Easy answers don’t exist. Maybe that’s not the fault of the authors. They just need to find more accurate book cover editors.

I wouldn’t want to be a lawyer defending those cover claims in court.

Update 2/2010: This post raises a couple of interesting issues. The Arthritis Foundation emphasizes exercise for Rheumatoid Arthritis in this book and in every campaign. It’s promoted without regard to disease severity or response to treatment. We have had some discussion of exercise with RA on the blog already. There are lots of comments on that hot topic on the links listed below if you want to join in.

Second, there is concern that the tone of the book and several statements in it do not reflect an understanding of what it’s like to live with RA. This is also true of this article from the Arthritis Foundation about hypochondria and chronic pain.

Recommended reading

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 at 7:00 am and is filed under Reality Check. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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