Publisher: Medmaster Inc.
ISBN# 978-1-935660-38-5

In this brief overview of Rheumatology, Dr. Adam Brown offers a glimpse into how Rheumatologists diagnose and treat a long list of rheumatologic conditions. The book is not too difficult for a lay person to understand if she keeps her phone or computer close by to help with some of the vocabulary.

As a patient, it will help you to understand factors that might go into making a diagnosis. Careful attention to symptoms, examination, and patient histories begins a process that might suggest a differential diagnosis. Strategies for testing and imaging are also discussed. There are many rheumatologic conditions that share symptoms, and the book does not explain in detail the exact criteria a rheumatologist might need to make a diagnosis. The more I read and discussed the book with rheumatologists, the more I realized how little I knew and how difficult it would be to remember all I had learned. Still, this does not diminish the knowledge I gained and hope to retain.

I found the book gave me some ability to make some sense of the manner in which immune systems work and go awry. The model we lay people commonly understand is that the body is able to generate antibodies to fight infection. What we learn is that this model is way too primitive and simplistic. At the minimum, we need to understand that the body has an “innate” immune system and an “adaptive” immune system. Eventually, I hope to understand more about how the immune system communicates and the how the body’s feedback loops help the body to regulate the process of maintaining a healthy body, something that I imagine all medical students have studied.

We also learn that rheumatological conditions can come about in many different ways and the book will help you to organize and characterize these conditions. For instance, familiar diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and spondylarthritis (includes several conditions including Psoriatic Arthritis) occur with a buildup of substances (cytokines including antibodies) from the adaptive immune system that cause inflammation. When the innate immune system goes awry, several diseases may occur including Still’s disease and others. Familiar infectious diseases can symptoms that appear rheumatologic including several tick-born illnesses and STD’s. Osteoarthritis is related to wear and tear more than inflammation. Gout stems from a buildup of uric acid that forms crystals that can stimulate an autoimmune response causing its familiar symptoms, inflammation and pain. Rheumatologic conditions commonly cause problems with joints but can cause problems with a host of other tissues and organs. In short, even this simplified text covers a lot of ground.

I found it difficult to put the book down each page revealed insights into how the immune system works and how Rheumatologists can help their patients when problems arise. While I utilized searches to help me read this book. I found that the book helped me to organize my understanding of Rheumatology in a way that individual searches alone could not. It is true that a rheumatologist might find this book somewhat superficial, Still, she would probably still value its ability to organize an immense amount of knowledge and the skill of the author in presenting it. To me, this suggests that Dr. Adam Brown is an exceptional educator.