Sunday, July 12, 2015

Healthy Joints for Life, by Richard Diana

With arthritis in the family, having been a runner through my mid-40s, (OK, a jogger), and having not too long ago passed the halfway mark (i.e., my 50th birthday) this book offered me a wealth of information about staying in good shape for a long time. Author Richard Diana was a professional football player who experienced significant trauma to his knees and body. As an orthopedic surgeon, he regularly treats people with severe arthritis. He wrote this book to share what he's learned about the best way to treat arthritis to maintain healthy joints.

Written in terms that a layman can understand, Dr. Diana describes the root causes of arthritis, particularly the role of inflammation. He outlines the basics of inflammation, how joints work and what can go wrong with them, the foods that help or hinder inflammation, the role of supplements, and how exercise helps. He follows this with an eight-week plan to reduce inflammation and reduce pain, providing different approaches for people with mild, moderate, or severe arthritis. The appendix provides more in-depth information about the cell science behind inflammation and pain.

I found Dr. Diana's recommendations to be helpful, but not all that surprising. Suggestions about diet and exercise are consistent with many other resources on health. What I found particularly useful were the discussions about the types of food that either cause or reduce inflammation (hint: carbohydrates are not so great). I was surprised by the lengthy list of supplements that Dr. Diana recommends, many but not all of which have strong evidence to support them.

This book would be useful to not only people who already have arthritis, but also to anyone who wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Even folks who already eat a healthy diet and exercise could glean more tips from this book about what foods to add to their diet and which ones to cut back on. I'm not a big fan of supplements, so I'll withhold judgment on that chapter.

Richard Diana, M.D. Healthy Joints for Life: An Orthopedic Surgeon's Proven Plan to Reduce Pain and Inflammation, Avoid Surgery, and Get Moving Again. New York: Harlequin, 2013.336 pages. ISBN 9780373892709.

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