Rheumatism: Its History from Paleo-Pathology to the Advent of Experimental Science

Thomas G. Benedek, M.D.
University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Series: Rheumatism and Musculoskeletal Disorders
BISAC: MED083000



Volume 10

Issue 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Special issue: Resilience in breaking the cycle of children’s environmental health disparities
Edited by I Leslie Rubin, Robert J Geller, Abby Mutic, Benjamin A Gitterman, Nathan Mutic, Wayne Garfinkel, Claire D Coles, Kurt Martinuzzi, and Joav Merrick


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Beginning with paleo-pathologic evidence of diseases in ancient Egypt that now are considered rheumatologic, the history of the development of beliefs and concepts of “rheumatism” is traced from about 1000 BCE to the beginning of relevant experiment-based science in mid-19th century. An introduction traces the etymology and modern introduction of “rheum.” The main text is divided chronologically into five chapters, each with detailed references. These, as far as possible, come from primary sources, with an emphasis placed on historically revealing quotations. Chapter 1 describes paleo-pathology and the earliest written record to 800 CE; chapter 2 covers the “Dark Ages” to Renaissance (900 – mid 16th century). Chapter 3 discusses the beginning of scientific observations in the 17th century. Chapter 4 includes 18th to early 19th century shedding of ancient concepts to the beginning of modern quantitative science. Finally, chapter 5 chronicles the recognition of uric acid and its relationship to gout. This overlaps with chapter 4 and brings the gout part of the story to the late 20th century. A glossary of terms that may be unfamiliar to some readers is appended. While this pre-scientific history of medicine is focused on the development of the concept of rheumatism, the philosophic timeline is applicable to Western medicine in general.
(Imprint: Nova Biomedical)


Chapter 1. Ancient Rheumatology

Chapter 2. Rheumatologic Writings from the 9th to the Early 16th Century

Chapter 3. 17th Century Rheumatologic Concepts

Chapter 4. 18th Century Developments of Rheumatologic Concepts

Chapter 5. Uric Acid Chemistry: Its History and Relationship to Gout


This book will probably be most attractive to medical professionals with an interest in muscul-skeletal diseases, but could be of use to anyone with curiosity about the history of medicine. To broaden its general appeal a glossary of medical and less well known historical terms is included.

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