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Exploring New Research Avenues for Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis in Palaeopathology: Interdisciplinary Approaches Focusing on Methodological Techniques

CRAPS, DAVINA,DENISE (2015) Exploring New Research Avenues for Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis in Palaeopathology: Interdisciplinary Approaches Focusing on Methodological Techniques. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This project sought to examine and critically evaluate current methodologies for the analysis and interpretation of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis within palaeopathology, with reference to clinical research. A compartmental recording method was developed for osteoarthritis and a distinction between degenerative joint changes and osteoarthritis was maintained. This method was applied to the analysis of five Post-Medieval skeletal populations from both rural and urban sites from northern England. An analysis of the pattern and distribution of osteoarthritis and DJC between the sites, including rural versus urban differences, age and sex-specific comparisons, and, where possible, a comparison with contemporaneous sites from southern England was undertaken. A set of diagnostic criteria for rheumatoid arthritis was developed, applied, and tested on potential cases of rheumatoid arthritis within the archaeological record. Given this condition’s scarcity within the palaeopathological context, a wider geographical and temporal analysis was conducted.
Results, based on clinical research and differential prevalence rates, indicated that DJC and osteoarthritis should be assessed separately. General rural-urban patterns were similar for DJC, even when compared with age or sex, which was not the case for osteoarthritis. The compartmental approach indicated differential distributions between mobile and stable elements of ball-and-socket and between skeletal elements in hinge joints respectively, which was explained through osteophyte-development and biomechanical analysis. The results were compared with clinical research to explore the impact of degeneration on the daily lives of past individuals, while not relying on activity reconstruction.
A foundation for future research on rheumatoid arthritis was created by the development of the set of diagnostic criteria and a visual comparative study of the erosive lesions between palaeopathological cases. Remarkable similarities were found in the expression of erosions in several skeletal elements (ulna, radius and cervical vertebrae). By analysing clinical, palaeopathological and historical information this project concluded that the disease is not of recent origin.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Archaeology; Palaeopathology; Osteoarthritis; Rheumatoid Arthritis; Methodology; Post-Medieval
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:22 May 2015 15:18

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