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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1996 Jul 1;21(13):1597-601.

The rise and fall of Erichsen's disease (railroad spine).

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Department of Surgery, University of California, Davis-East Bay, Oakland, USA.


The railroad represented one of the major technologic achievements of the 19th century. Sadly, railroad collisions, which resulted in major injuries and loss of life, began to tarnish the image of this popular mode of transportation. Public alarm about rail travel intensified in 1866, when noted British surgeon John Eric Erichsen described a peculiar progressive spinal disorder, similar to spinal concussion, that was a sequela to railroad accident or injury. The history of this disorder, which came to be known as "railroad spine" or "Erichsen's disease", represents a little known yet important chapter in the evolution of the modern comprehension of functional illness that can complicate or even replace an initial substrate of organic disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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