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Johann Peter Frank (1745–1821) and the Pathogenesis of Back Pain

Riva, Michele Augusto MD, PhD; Anghilieri, Filippo Maria MD; Belingheri, Michael MD; Zatti, Giovanni MD∗,†

doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000003074
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
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 Johann Peter Frank (1745–1821) is generally known as one of the founders of the modern Hygiene and Public Health. It is less known his contribution in investigating the pathogenesis of spinal disorders. In his “De Vertebralis Columnae in Morbis Dignitate” (1791), Frank first proposed to use the Latin term “rhachialgia” (back pain) to indicate all the painful states of spine. He focused on the “plethora spinali” in the vessels of the spinal cord and its membrane, sustaining that blood congestion was the origin of all the spinal disorders. He also believed that the excess of blood was able to generate a “diffuse inflammation” of vertebral and medullary structures. The innovative concepts developed by Johann Peter Frank demonstrated that he could be worthily considered as a pioneer in the study of spinal disorders.

Level of Evidence: 5

During the 18th century, the German physician Johann Peter Frank (1745–1821) investigated the pathogenesis of back pain, sustaining that all the spinal disorders were caused by blood congestion (plethora spinali). According to Frank, the excess of blood was able to generate a “diffuse inflammation” of vertebral and medullary structures.

School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Milano-Bicocca, Monza, Italy

Orthopedics Clinic, San Gerardo Hospital, Monza, Italy.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Michele Augusto Riva, MD, PhD, School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Milano-Bicocca, via Cadore 48, IT-20900, Monza, Italy; E-mail: michele.riva@unimib.it

Received 30 January, 2019

Accepted 25 March, 2019

The manuscript submitted does not contain information about medical device(s)/drug(s).

No funds were received in support of this work.

No relevant financial activities outside the submitted work.

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