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November 7, 1959


Committee of the American Rheumatism Association
Author Affiliations

The Committee of the American Rheumatism Association consists of Drs. Darrell C. Crain, Washington, D. C., Chairman; Wallace Epstein, San Francisco; David Howell, Miami; Harry Margolis, Pittsburgh; Elbert Phelps, Washington, D. C.; William Rawls, New York; Edward Rosenberg, Chicago; J. Edwin Seegmiller, Bethesda, Md.; Lawrence Shulman, Baltimore; Leon Sokoloff, Bethesda, Md.; Harry Thompson, Tucson, Ariz.; and Elam Toone, Richmond, Va.

JAMA. 1959;171(10):1345-1356. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.73010280009016

Degenerative Joint Disease (Osteoarthritis)  Degenerative joint disease is a progressive deterioration of diarthrodial joints, characterized by mechanical erosion of articular cartilage and overgrowth of bone at the joint margins. Although this common articular disorder has been variously named osteoarthritis, hypertrophic arthritis, senescent arthritis, arthritis deformans, and arthrosis, the term degenerative joint disease is more accurately descriptive of the pathological changes occurring within the involved joints. The term, however, implies a generalized involvement of the joints of an affected person which is frequently not found. It has had limited acceptance, and the simpler designation, osteoarthritis, is most commonly used.

Etiology.—  All of the factors contributing to osteoarthritis are not known. The etiology, however, includes mechanical, dystrophic, and genetic elements. Postmortem studies indicate that the degenerative changes in the cartilage are the earliest anatomic abnormalities and that a correlation exists between the severity of such changes and advancing age, while deterioration of

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