The Arthritis Handbook: Improve Your Health and Manage the Pain of Osteoarthritis Paperback – Jan 15 2008
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About the Author
Grant Cooper, M.D., is a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician who specializes in the care of people with spine, sports, and musculoskeletal problems. He has a special interest in back and joint pain, and has published numerous articles and books in this area. He completed his residency at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell in New York City, and is currently in the department of orthopedics at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Cooper has received national and international recognition for his research on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. He is the co-editor-in-chief for the journal Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine.
As the host of "Back Pain Radio" (World Talk Radio), Dr. Cooper emphasized the concept that understanding your health problems and what you can do about them empowers people to make lasting changes for a healthier life. This book is intended to help his readers achieve that goal.
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Top Customer Reviews
I've followed a lot of the advice in this book, including how to approach physical activity and some of the supplements suggested, and have had a notable improvement in symptoms. I no longer use prescription anti-inflammatories and rarely need ibuprofen, which amounts to no small miracle after my own PCN reacted to my diagnosis as if I should just give up on life right there in her office. As a very active individual (and very young for the typical arthritis sufferer) this was obviously not an option, and this book went a long way towards helping me get control of my situation and for the most part maintain the lifestyle I had before.
Of course everyone's case is different, but I strongly recommend giving this a read and trying some of his suggestions if, like, me, you've found your healthcare team not up to the task. If you're looking to take control of your care, this book is an excellent place to start.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Dr. Grant Cooper has written a concise, clearly understandable guidebook for managing arthritis to achieve the best quality of life. I realized while reading that when I was running fifty miles a week I was doing everything he suggests. The onset of fibromyalgia set me back tremendously but there is no reason I, and anyone who has arthritis, cannot slowly introduce the changes Dr. Cooper enumerates. The brilliance of this book is that, while making arthritis more tolerable, it also will improve your overall health.
The book is divided into five sections. The first is a brief explanation of the workings of your joints and how arthritis develops. The second through fifth are the remedial portions. Dr. Cooper addresses nutrition and his recommendations are in line with those for good health in general. Arthritis sufferers need antioxidants even more than others and there is a list of the most antioxidant-rich foods. Essentially you need to add a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. You also need to add more cold water fish as the omega 3 fatty acids are important. You should limit your red meat consumption. All these and the others mentioned are common sense not just for our health but also for the health of the planet. If, as Dr. Cooper suggests, you begin to adjust your eating habits slowly you CAN reach your goal of a healthier diet.
Part III deals with exercise. Counterintuitively it is important to move the affected joints. Dr. Cooper presents stretching and weight bearing exercises with clear explanations and excellent photographs. As with the dietary changes, slowly incorporating exercise into your daily routine can have great benefit and not just for those who suffer from arthritis.
Part IV covers supplements that may help some arthritis sufferers. Not everyone should take supplements and, as throughout the book, there are caveats and recommendations to discuss any changes you contemplate with your doctor.
Part V broaches the topic of surgery. Hopefully this will be a last resort and Dr. Cooper discusses the various degrees of surgery available to those who find it necessary.
I learned quite a lot from this small book and I have been keeping myself informed as best I can about my various forms of arthritis. I believe I can make some of these changes quite easily since I used to live this way. They are all accessible to anyone, however, and when the book comes out you will want to read it if you suffer from arthritis no matter how debilitating.
Dr. Grant Cooper has written a very accessible book about osteoarthritis, one that has relevance for all age groups. For the young, it provides a plan to minimize one of the probable effects of aging. For seniors, it is a guide to ameliorating the effects of arthritis. One of Cooper's goals is to help the reader make lifestyle changes and the book is written and organized to give the reader the information to make those changes.
In Part I, Dr. Cooper describes how joints work and how arthritis begins. Some readers might be tempted to skip this part and go directly to the chapters that give action plans for the reader to follow. That would be a mistake. That would be a mistake. Knowing how the joints work and how arthritis sets in provides a foundation for the subsequent chapters particularly those describing exercise.
Nutrition is covered in Part II. The advice is not faddish and clearly presented. It might be the most difficult aspect of ones life to modify but the author makes a compelling case and relates the effects of diet to the information on joints and arthritis provided in Part I. Dr. Cooper describes why and how he modified his own eating habits which contributes to the effectiveness of the message that proper nutrition plays a major part in preventing the onset of arthritis and easing the effects of an existing condition.
I had already begun an exercise program as described in Part III before reading this book. Dr. Cooper recommends working with a trainer and I endorse that recommendation. I was going to the gym on my own before I engaged a trainer and was astonished at the ineffectiveness of my approach. It is difficult to effectively exercise based on text and photographs in a book. A trainer will make sure that you are performing the exercises and stretches properly to avoid injury and also make sure that you are exercising and stretching the right areas of the body.
Part IV covers supplements. As with nutrition, Dr. Cooper takes a practical, conservative, and balanced, approach that doesn't stray into exotic, supplement remedies popular in infomercials. He is careful to indicate where the benefits of certain supplements have not been conclusively proven but where there is sufficient reason to believe that they will have some effect. I found his discussions on fish oil and glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate particularly interesting as I was taking those supplements before reading the book. For example, while my fish oil supplement is advertised as containing 1,200 mg of fish oil, it is well short of the recommended amount of EPA/DHA.
The subtitle of the book is The Essential Guide to a Pain-Free, Drug Free Life but he necessarily concludes with a section on medication and surgery. He emphasizes that these options need to be done in conjunction with diet, exercise, and nutritional supplements. An analgesic will mask the pain but do nothing to correct the underlying disease causing the pain.
Dr. Cooper's book is a excellent, readable resource for to establish both a preventative as well as a management program for dealing with arthritis.
Dr. Cooper spells out all the key concepts in the first chapters; he goes into detail later.
The sections on nutrition, dietary supplements and exercise are particularly strong. Pages 95-107 are devoted to specific exercises, with photos. I wish Dr. Cooper had included some aquatic exercises in this section but I think I understand why he didn't. He stresses that the best exercises are the ones people will actually do.
Exercises that can be done at home are certainly the most convenient. Still, I think the next edition of The Arthritis Handbook should be expanded to include specific aquatic exercises, illustrated by line drawings.
I recommend The Arthritis Handbook as an excellent "first book" for arthritic patients. You'll learn, for example, why your joints are so stiff upon getting out of bed in the morning, why a good diet and regular exercise are so important and what causes the pain and inflammation in arthritic joints.
The book is not a typical arthritis help book - it is peppered with personal and cultural references that are as informative as they are amusing. The book also includes a glossary to help readers understand medical terminology and a list of websites for readers to learn more about osteoarthritis. Overall, the best aspect of the book is that it encourages patients to communicate with healthcare professionals, and notes key times when patients should seek professional advice.
Despite the fact that the information in the book is sound, the book is somewhat disorganized and at times seems to be addressing two separate audiences. Also, I would have liked to have seen a detailed reference list of the studies described in the book. Ultimately these stylistic shortfalls do not detract from the promising message of the book - osteoarthritis can be managed by lifestyle changes that are described in the book.
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