I wish I had read this book 3 years ago. It’s been 3-4 years since my inflammatory pain began, both in my upper back, left shoulder and knees. This is the first time I’ve been able to get a good grasp on what rheumatoid arthritis is, when it originated and what treatments have been successful in treating the disease. I should explain that the book mostly focuses on RA, but also delves into scleroderma, lupus, spondylitis and other rheumatic diseases. The author, Henry Scammell, includes many patient testimonials over recent years as a supplement to The Road Back, which is also included inside this book in it’s entirety.

One thing that impressed me while reading is the number of times Scammell gives perspective from both the patient and the doctor. I knew there were a lot of politics involved with antibiotic therapy, but what I didn’t know was the history behind the controversy. Each chapter is brief and to the point. I believe that is why I found it so engaging and hard to put down. In addition, the history behind medication used to treat rheumatoid arthritis helped give me a better understanding of why certain drugs are used to this day. From the origins of cortisone over half a century ago  to the introduction of methotrexate, I can now understand where these treatments began and the seriousness of their effects on the body.

Many instances throughout the book describe how dangerous corticosteroids and other DMARD’s can be over long periods. Rheumatologists that I’ve visited have always made me aware of such facts, and most seem to know the dangers of high doses over long periods. What I didn’t realize until after reading is that most of these prescriptions have decent levels of pain and inflammatory suppression, but only for a few years before they all lose their effectiveness. I understand that a lot of medications can really improve day to day living and reduce the possibility of further joint damage, but for me I’d rather not risk the long-term damage of my otherwise healthy organs for a few years of pain relief when I know it won’t last.

Without going into detail about mycoplasmas and the bacteria that’s involved with Dr. Thomas McPherson Brown’s antiobotic treatment methods, which is the premise for this book, I’ll say that the number of people treated by him with success and even long-term remission is enough to convince me to try the therapy. I just wish there was a way to follow-up with some of the participants since the publish date 5 years ago. It sounds like the political debate is ongoing, yet there is a lot of support within the roadback.org website and community forums.

Perhaps one of the most interesting things I discovered while reading is when most of the time a patient has had undiagnosed symptoms of inflammatory arthritis for several years, their doctor will eventually settle with rheumatoid arthritis as a diagnosis. I suppose that is why I’ve so far been treated with medications like methotrexate, plaquenil, sulfasalazine and prednisone. I haven’t yet been introduced to antibiotic therapy by any of the doctors I’ve seen, but it is hopeful to see minocycline now listed on the athritis.org website. Another thing I learned while reading is how different these antibiotics are from the traditional antibiotics used to treat things like sinus infections (the ones my doctor and pretty much everyone else I knew told me never to take too often or your body will develop immunity to those antibiotics, losing their effectiveness for future infections). Tetracycline, doxycycline and minocycline do not have the same makeup and are much safer to use over long term. It’s important to note that antibiotic treatment such as minocycline for long term arthritis treatment is not FDA approved. It’s no wonder no doctor ever seems to mention it as an option.

From the perspective of someone – anyone with inflammatory arthritis, symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or even my favorite speller, seronegative undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy, The New Arthritis Breakthrough is a great resource. Even if you don’t agree with Dr. Brown’s antibiotic protocol, it’s worth being informed of all possibilities out there for treatment. I’m convinced it’s worth a try. Now I must find a doctor knowledgeable and willing.