OVERVIEW: Osteoarthritis, the disease involving breakdown of the cartilage, is a major public health issue, establish the authors, both rheumatologists (Lane at UC San Francisco, Wallace at UCLA and Cedars-Sinai). It's the second most common cause of disability in this country, affecting 23 million Americans; by 2020, 30 million Americans will have it.
HOW IT WORKS: Lane and Wallace lead readers through the definitions and anatomy of arthritis and dispel myths about its causes. It can occur at any age--often a result of obesity, genetics, old injury or extreme stress on the joints--and can be exacerbated by some medications. They then move on to how it's diagnosed and how it affects various parts of the body, before addressing traditional and alternative therapies. Finally, they tackle disability, prognosis and hope for a cure.