|dc.description.abstract||Arthritis deformans in its atrophic form (rheumatoid arthritis) is, perhaps, best defined as a chronic disease affecting many joints, principally the smaller ones. It occurs chiefly in the female sex, is due probably to the action of a toxin, and is characterised by changes in the cartilages and the soft structures surrounding the joints, thus causing great immobility and deformity.
That arthritis is a disease of great antiquity is borne out by the fact that recently-unearthed bones
from tombs of about 3700-1300 B.C. showed unmistakable evidence of the affection. In exarnination of remains in Egypt, remains representative of all periods from early predynastic times dovm to the Fifth Dynasty after Christ, "the disease which showed itself with by far the greatest frequency in the bodies of all periods is rheumatoid arthritis". Virchow has left records describing the affection in bones unearthed from Pompeii. From these remote times onwards through the Middle Ages to the present day, an almost continuous series of historical records testifies that the disease has always been with us, and also that its clinical characters have remained unaltered through all the ages. The aetiology and pathology of the disease have, however, been so shrouded in darkness that we find the various writers, in their information on the subject, making indiscriminate use of the terms rheumatism, gout and arthritis to designate this affection.||en