History of Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is the history of rheumatoid arthritis? Although science continues to expand our knowledge about rheumatoid arthritis, this disease is not a new one. How and when did this disease first become recognized?

The earliest writings of arthritis dates back to 123 AD and describes symptoms very similar to rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

woman with arthritis

The origination of rheumatoid arthritis dates back to the 4500 BC based bones of Native Americans that were discovered in Tennessee. During this time there was an outbreak of tuberculosis. It is believed that the overactive immune system that may have protected the Native Americans from tuberculosis may have also predisposed them to this autoimmune disease. Even today the Native American ethnic group tend to acquire the disease more than other ethnic groups.

Although the Native Americans have demonstrated a greater tendency to have rheumatoid arthritis, there is no evidence that if you have a family member with rheumatoid arthritis that you have an increased risk of developing the disease. That does not mean that there is not a genetic component. Research does indicate that there is an increased risk for significant joint damage if there is a family history of RA, an elevated number of shared epitope alleles, and being positive for anti-CCP3.

From a medical historical standpoint, the first recognized description of rheumatoid arthritis was in 1800 by the French physician Dr Augustin Jacob Landré-Beauvais. It was in 1859 that the disease acquired its current name by British rheumatologist Dr Alfred Baring Garrod .

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms