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  • Understand the goals and organization of the Musculoskeletal Pathophysiology Course
  • Become familiar with the concept and categorization of the musculoskeletal or “rheumatic” diseases
  • Learn the anatomy and physiology of the joint as well as its relationship to the periarticular structures including tendons, ligaments and bursas
  • Understand the function and content of synovial fluid in normal and disease states
  • Gain insight into utility of synovial fluid analysis in the diagnosis of joint pathology
  • Learn the clincical presentation and pathophysiology of the acutely inflamed joint

1. Introduction

Welcome to the Musculoskeletal Pathophysiology course. This course introduces you to rheumatology, a subspecialty of internal medicine that is comprised of diseases that directly or indirectly affect the joints. A clinical elective available to students in the fourth year of medical school reinforces some of the principles presented during the second year course. We hope that some of you will be able to rotate with us during your fourth year.

The conceptual nature of rheumatic diseases can be difficult to grasp. On the surface, some of the topics presented within the course may appear unrelated. For example, some students have wondered why vasculitis and scleroderma are presented within this course. Though scleroderma is a disease characterized by excess collagen deposition, patients may also experience joint pain and its pathophysiology is intimately correlated with poorly controlled cellular activity and autoimmunity, hence its categorization within the spectrum of rheumatic diseases. The same is true for the vasculitides that you will learn about in a lecture and small group laboratory. The pathogenesis of some of the rheumatic diseases involves immunologic mechanisms and these two entities fit well within this categorization. It would be useful for you to have your first year immunology syllabus handy to refer back to concepts you learned last year. The same is true for histology and anatomy.

2. Content

This course is comprised of nine lectures and two small group discussions on vasculitis and the differential diagnosis of arthritis. This syllabus contains materials prepared by the individual lecturers in the course and ideally should be read prior to the lectures. Additional materials may be distributed at the time of the lectures.

3. Schedule

Meeting Time Subject Instructor
Introduction Faculty
1 1 hour Introduction to Rheumatic Diseases and Joint Physiology Kalish
2 1 hour Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Kalish
3 1 hour Chronic Arthritis: Lyme Arthritis and Spondyloarthropathy Kalish
4 1 hour Osteoarthritis McAlindon
5 1 hour Nonarticular Rheumatism: Fibromyalgia and Soft Tissue Disorders Faculty
6 1 hour Chronic Arthritis: Rheumatoid Arthritis Massarotti
7 1 hour Scleroderma Massarotti
8 1 hour Pediatric Rheumatology Lopez
9 1 hour Crystal Arthritis Roubenoff
10 2 hours Small group sessions: Vasculitis/Connective Tissue Disease Faculty
11 2 hours Small group sessions: Differential Diagnosis Arthritis Faculty
12 1.5 hours Musculoskeletal Pathophysiology Section Examination
Final Exam

4. Readings

4.1. Course Textbook

The text for this course is: The Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases, Twelfth Edition. John H. Klippel, editor; Leslie J. Crofford, John H. Stone, Cornelia M. Weyand [associate editors]. Atlanta, Ga: Arthritis Foundation, c2001.

The following chapters are optional but recommended reading for the course:

  • Chapter 8 (pp. 157-165): good introduction to clinical Rheumatology, pertinent to the first lecture
  • Chapter 8 (175-177, 178, 179, 181-2): Regional Pain Syndromes
  • Chapter 9 (pp. 209-232): Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Chapter 11 (pp. 239-258): Seronegative Spondyloarthropathy
  • Chapter 12 (pp. 269-273): Lyme Disease
  • Chapter 17 (pp. 329-345): Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

4.2. Small Group Reading

The following chapter from The Primer on Rheumatic Diseases is required reading and is related to one of the small group sessions:

  • Chapter 21 (pp. 385-402): Vasculitis

5. Examination

The examination is based upon information presented in the lectures, syllabus, the required reading and the small group discussions.