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Book and Media Reviews
March 12, 2008

Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases

JAMA. 2008;299(10):1195. doi:10.1001/jama.299.10.1195-a

In 1934, a 52-page pamphlet under this same name introduced rheumatology to US physicians. It was a modest effort, but for a new discipline in internal medicine, it was a beginning. Rehabilitation was in its infancy, beds were occupied for lengthy periods by patients who had rheumatoid arthritis, and Forrestier's discovery of the efficacy of gold salts was still to come and would be opposed by Russell Cecil because Forrestier thought he was treating tuberculosis. Even 20 years later, not much had changed. Hans Wayne could still write an article in Archives of Internal Medicine advocating 10.8 g of aspirin as treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis was still considered to be predominantly a degenerative disease, and fibromyalgia was still termed fibrositis. Arthritis surgery consisted chiefly of osteotomies. This latest edition of the Primer testifies to how far the field has come since then.