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Flying Up the Stairs

Book Review:
Flying Up the Stairs: What You Need to Know About Menopausal Arthritis to Break Free

Phyllis Rickel-Wong
Boston, MA: Endover  Press, Inc., 2012
387 pages

The book is divided into two main sections that address, firstly, what menopausal arthritis is and, secondly, a treatment plan for “the road to healing.” The first section stresses that osteoarthritis is more common in women and according to the author is caused by more factors than just the estrogen decrease associated with menopause. It is more than a “wear and tear disease of aging.” The author states that menopausal arthritis develops within a “highly metabolic milieu characterized by inflammation.” There seems to be an increase in the metabolic syndrome in menopausal women and this tends to favor an increased inflammatory state which may in turn increase the risk of osteoarthritis. The first part also stresses that other physical factors involving the muscles, tendons, and cartilage may be misinterpreted as arthritic pain. In addition, psychological factors are addressed; emotional stress can bring on an increased inflammatory state.

In the second half of the book, the emphasis is on integrated exercises that target the muscle-tendon-bone component. There are many good exercise illustrations. The other emphasis is on a good nutritional base; the book stresses that plants contain many anti-inflammatory factors. Much weight is put on using food supplements, herbs, and physical therapy to treat arthritis. The author stresses healing from both the “inside and outside.” Although the treatment plan is biased toward the natural approach, the author does stress looking at evidence-based data to support the outlined treatment plans.

Strengths of the book are good illustrations of anatomy and exercises. There is very detailed information to suit those of a strong scientific bent while also being reader friendly for those wanting practical, helpful information. There are several “topic of interest” sections throughout the chapters that keep the reading interesting and lively. There are extensive notes at the end of each chapter as well as helpful resources and a glossary at the back of the book. Finally, the authors own struggle and victory over menopausal arthritis adds a personal touch.

The book may  contain too much information for some; the detail could be intimidating for others. There is a bias toward natural healing that is fully acknowledged by the author; her plan is “not dependent upon hormone supplementation,” — “my plan does not need to include pharmaceutical drugs nor NSAIDs.” That said, she does also encourage the reader to keep an open mind to all possible helps including conventional medicine.

I think most readers will find this book interesting and helpful and I would rate it as a valuable book for those interested in finding out more about menopausal arthritis including the treatment and prevention of this debilitating disease.

Review written by:
David Hutchins, MD, NCMP
Associate professor
Department of OB/GYN
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Little Rock, AR

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