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Joint Bone Spine. 2004 Sep;71(5):397-400.

Is the incidence of elbow osteoarthritis underestimated? Insights from paleopathology.

Author information

  • 1Laboratoire d'Anthropologie Anatomique et de Pal√©opathologie, Universit√© Rockefeller, 8, avenue Rockefeller, 63373 Lyon 8, France. debono@club-internet.fr

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Osteoarthritis is uncommon at the elbow in contemporary populations. We sought to determine whether this was also the case in medieval and premodern times.

MATERIAL AND METHODS:

Standard criteria for osteoarthritis were applied to 496 complete elbows from a necropolis in Provence, France.

RESULTS:

Osteoarthritis was found in 27% of elbows. Significant differences were noted across periods and age groups but not between the right and left sides.

CONCLUSION:

Our data suggest that the symptoms of elbow osteoarthritis may be far milder than expected from the underlying pathological lesions. The incidence of elbow osteoarthritis in contemporary populations is probably underestimated. The high prevalence of elbow osteoarthritis in archeological populations cannot be taken as a marker for activities placing stress on the upper limbs.

PMID:
15474391
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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