In response to the question, "Have you ever suffered from rheumatism?" addressed to the ordinary patient over 40 years of age, the physician seldom gets a negative answer. Even younger patients will tell of having had vague pains in their arms or shoulders, or in their knees or ankles, that they consider to have been rheumatic. Popularly, the notion is that rheumatism is one of the ills to which flesh is almost inevitably heir, and, in the course of time, practically every one is supposed to have some touches of it. It is not too much to say, then, that rheumatism is popularly considered to be practically, a universal disease. Physicians encouraged this idea, to a certain extent at least, by suggesting that vague pains are rheumatic in origin, or at least agreeing with patients when they say that probably they have rheumatism.
As a matter of fact, many
WALSH JJ. THE PASSING OF CHRONIC RHEUMATISM.. JAMA. 1903;XLI(9):540-543. doi:10.1001/jama.1903.92490280010001b