Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Arthritis Definition:

A medical condition characterized by the inflammation of the joints.

Related Terms: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Physiatrist

The Arthritis Society of Canada proposes this description:

"Arthritis ('arth' meaning joint, 'itis' meaning inflammation) isn't a one-note story or even a few variations on a single theme; it actually consists of more than 100 different conditions. These can be anything from relatively mild forms of tendinitis (as in 'tennis elbow') and bursitis to crippling systemic forms, such as rheumatoid arthritis. There are pain syndromes like fibromyalgia and arthritis-related disorders, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, that involve every part of the body. There are forms of the disease, such as gout, that almost nobody connects with arthritis, and there are other conditions - like osteoarthritis...."

According to the Attorney's Dictionary of Medicine:

"Arthiritis (is) inflammation of the joint or joints. Any disease of joints involving inflammation and tissue change."

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. William Gallivan made these remarks in 1953:

"You can classify arthritis best in two general groups: the atrophic and the hypertrophic or degenerative arthritis.

"The atrophic arthritis is the inflammatory type where the joints become markedly red, hot, swollen and painful. That is rheumatoid arthritis, and it is seldom brought into litigation suits.

"I believe that the primary type that is seen in litigation is the hypertrophic arthritis - the wear-and-tear or osteoarthritis or traumatic arthritis.

"The great problem is to differentiate osteoarthritis from traumatic arthritis. The mechanism differs but the end result or the pathology noted by the examining physician is similar. With osteoarthritis it is a necessity to have x-rays taken at the earliest practical moment, because changes in the joints associated with osteoarthritis or wear-and-tear do not occur overnight, and if we have an x-ray within the first one or two weeks of injury, we can definitely rule out that this pathology or abnormality is a result of trauma or so-called traumatic arthritis. With the degenerative changes of osteoarthritis there is a very slow rate of healing in strains and sprains. The joint is abnormal, the joint space is narrow and there is marginal lipping or spurring. The supporting structures are, therefore, under greater strain and with injury have a lesser tendency to heal, due to the preexisting added strain."

In is aptly titled 1969 article ("Pain in the Neck"), attorney Arthur Bishop wrote:

"Arthritis - that painful ailment of the joints of the human body - touches all elements of society. It hurts the millionaire as it does the pauper. It causes soreness in the legal stenographer just as much as it does in the coal miner. It knows neither time nor geography."


  • Arthritis Society of Canada
  • Bishop, Arthur, Pain in the Neck, 36 Ins. Counsel J. 222 (1969)
  • Gallivan, William, Importance of Pre-Existing Abnormalities of Bones and Congenital Defects, 23 Tenn. L. Rev. 696 (1953-1955)
  • Lankin, Joseph J., Trauma in Arthritis, 3 Amicus Curiae 4 (1959)
  • Schmidt, J.E., Attorney's Dictionary of Medicine, Volume 1 (Newark, New Jersey: LexisNexis, 2009), page A-547 to A-548

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