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Book Review: Alternative Treatments Yield More Options and New Hope for Relief

  [ 1433 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • December 1, 1999

When conventional medicine fails to help - or doesn't help enough - where do you turn? Authors Mari Skelly and Andrea Helm, both of whom suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, offer an excellent range of treatment alternatives in their newly released resource, Alternative Treatments for Fibromylagia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Insights from Practitioners and Patients (Hunter House Publishers, $15.95).

Based on two years of research, Alternative Treatments provides a wealth of alternative approaches, complete with detailed interviews with treatment experts who explain how each therapy works and what it does to help you. Some of the many therapies discussed include: tai chi, yoga, and Chinese medicine, including acupuncture; massage and physical therapy; osteopathy, chiropractic and craniosacral therapy; psychotherapy, and energetic healing. The therapies are described from patients' and providers' perspectives to give a clear picture of what happens in a session, how long it takes, how it feels, the theory behind the treatment, and more.

Another valuable feature of this guide is the personal accounts it offers of people living with FM and CFS. When you're living with an illness some doctors won't even recognize, often there is no more valuable advice than firsthand experience passed from one patient to another. These stories let readers know they are not alone in their struggle, offering an examination of symptoms, therapies, challenges and successes. The people interviewed - women and men of all ages, the recently diagnosed and long-term sufferers - describe lifestyle adaptations and individual drug, diet and activity regimens that can guide patients as they search for new avenues of relief.

Other important topics covered in this extensive resource include new directions in research, the use of narcotics and medical marijuana in treating chronic pain, and employment issues and legal considerations such as obtaining Social Security and private disability benefits. A glossary and comprehensive list of resources provide further contact information for local and national health organizations.

This guide belongs in every CFS and FM sufferer's library. "In the current climate of managed care," says Dr. Paul Brown, a leading rheumatologist specializing in fibromyalgia, "patients with FM or CFS are hard-pressed to get the care they need." This carefully compiled volume will open a world of options you may have overlooked, and offer new hope to FM and CFS patients. If you'd like to consider all avenues of assistance, this is an excellent place to get an overall picture of the many and diverse options available to you.

Alternative Treatments for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, by Mari Skelly and Andrea Helm. Foreword by Paul Brown, M.D., Ph.D. Hunter House Publishers, 1999. Paperback, 288 pages, $15.95. Available in bookstores, or at 1-800-266-5592.

Patients and Practitioners Share Their Secrets
"After our diagnoses, we read everything we could get out hands on about our conditions. But we were always looking for a book that documented both the treatment plans of trained professionals and personal testimonies of people living with FM and CFS," explain authors Mari Skelly and Andrea Helm.

"After not finding one on the shelves," Skelly remembers, "I began to imagine writing one of my own. I hoped to prevent others from having to learn the hard way about the pitfalls of the health-care system, as I had. Andrea and I were both interested in researching alternative therapies, because we had tried conventional ones such as drugs and surgery but were still in pain. We decided to write this book because we wanted others to benefit from our experiences."

Skelly had already put together fliers and started soliciting interviewees when she met Helm, a former technical writer and collaborator on numerous award-winning articles. Combining their skills they interviewed 28 expert care providers, teachers and attorneys; and edited two years worth of research.

"This book includes the options and information that took many of us years to find on our own. We hope that through reading these incredible stories you will realize that you are not alone. There is still significant debate about the origins of FM and CFS, and still no cure for either syndrome. But we survivors have learned a few secrets along the way, and we're glad to share our tips for getting the most out of life."

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