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< prev - next > Livestock Animal husbandry Arthritis_in_cattle (Printable PDF)
J. L. Shupet
ARTHRITIS, while not limited to cattle, has been recognized in this species since
the beginning of veterinary history (4). Despite this long-standing recognition
and the fact that arthritis presents definite clinical symptoms and lesions of
diagnostic, prognostic, and pathological importance, surprisingly few studies
delving into the cause and pathology of this important disease process in cattle
have been reported. From an economic viewpoint, the livestock industry takes a
considerable yearly loss from the effects of arthritis (11). A large number of
animals are condemned at slaughter houses each year, the medical attention
required for afflicted animals is expensive and afflicted animals have poor per-
formance records.
Comparative evaluation of this disease as it occurs in man and animal has
already proved valuable, and further investigations along such lines should be
Joint lesions which cause arthritis may be divided into two general categories:
inflammatory and degenerative (1). The inflammatory type is often proliferative,
especially in the later stages. In the earlier stages, exudative signs play the pre-
dominant role. The degenerative type of lesion has been designated by a variety
of terms such as arthritis deformans, osteoarthritis, chronic articular rheumatism,
chronic osteoarthritis, chronic osteoarthrosis, hypertrophic arthritis, degenerative
joint disease, and chondromalacia arthrosis. We prefer the term arthrosis or,
more fully, arthrosis deformans. The term arthrosis distinguishes the degenerative
from the inflammatory type of joint diseases, the etiology and pathogenesis of
which are different. Terms ending in "osis" generally describe degenerative pro-
cesses such as nephrosis, while the ending "itis" should be reserved for truly
inflammatory processes such as nephritis. This conforms with the original mean-
ing of the Greek genus "itis".
In any study of lesions involving the joints, it is imperative to appreciate the
four characteristics of articular cartilage: (1) avascularity, (2) insensitivity, (3)
low metabolic rate, and (4) poor reparative ability. The concept of the musculo-
skeletal system as a structural and functional unit must also be kept in mind
when studying and evaluating arthritis. This unity is reflected whenever one of
the three major components (bones, joints, and muscles) of the locomotor system
becomes abnormal and the other two ultimately undergo secondary changes (10).
During the past eight years, bones and joints from 379 animals of various
dairy and beef breeds have been studied. These animals ranged in age from one
day to 21 years, with the majority between 5 and 10 years of age. In the selection
*The research for this paper was conducted at Utah State University.
f Animal Disease and Parasite Research Division ARS, USDA, Logan, Utah. Formerly of
the Veterinary Science Department, Utah State University, Logan, Utah.
CAN. VET. jouni., vol. 2, no. 10, October, 1961