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Some paleopathological studies suggest that rheumatoid arthritis originated in the New World (among ancient Native Americans in Tennessee and neighbouring areas, 5000–500 BC); only after the discovery of America was the origin of the disease attributed to the Old World.1 In 1996, under the floors of the San Francisco church (Arezzo, Italy), a female mummy was discovered. This 50–55-year-old woman, re-named the “Braids Lady”, died at the end of the 16th century. Several diagnostic examinations disclosed distinctive rheumatoid arthritis skeletal deformities due to rheumatoid arthritis in her body: large erosions of the metacarpophalangeal joints of the left hand; lateral deviation of all the fingers, with a typical “Z” deformation of the first …
Competing interests: None declared.
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