Thesis

Prevalence of Osteoarthritis in the pre-contact and post-contact Arikara

This study aimed to examine the incidence of osteoarthritis in adult individuals from the Arikara Native American population. Samples from pre-contact, contact, and post-contact periods were broken down by sex and age to test the hypothesis that osteoarthritis increased after European contact. Statistically significant increases in osteoarthritis before and after contact were observed in the ankle and wrist (overall osteoarthritis prevalence), ankle and elbow (female osteoarthritis prevalence), ankle (male osteoarthritis prevalence), ankle and cervical vertebra (young adult osteoarthritis prevalence), ankle, knee, hip, wrist, elbow, and shoulder (middle aged adult osteoarthritis prevalence), and lumbar vertebra (old aged adult osteoarthritis prevalence). The increase in osteoarthritis post-contact is attributed to the dramatic population decreases caused by disease and conflicts with outside groups that led to the need for the healthiest individuals to take on more intense labor roles in hunting and agriculture to compensate for a population with an ever decreasing number of individuals who could contribute to the Arikara society. The cause of osteoarthritis is difficult to attribute to an exact activity but is typically associated with actions that impacted a specific joint over a long period of time or intermittent high intensity activities (Bridges 1991). Activities associated with increased Arikara osteoarthritis incidence include long distance walking, frequent travel over hilly or rough landscapes, activities associated with food processing, the fur trade, carrying heavy loads, and for middle to older aged individuals may be linked to the aging process.

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