Acrodynia: Its Place in Medicine and its Relation to Pellagra

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  • Wilmington, North Carolina

The term acrodynia (ακρος an extremity, όδύνη pain) was coined about 1830 in France to meet the need of a word to designate a condition regarded as altogether new and hitherto undescribed under any other single designation. The first recognized account of the disease was in 1828 and until the term acrodynia was introduced it was known as the malady of Paris or the epidemie de Paris.

From the earliest account in the literature until this day no publication has failed to refer to its striking similarity to pellagra and in every instance there has been expressed the possibility of its cause being explained by some dietetic error either of a toxic or a deficient sort.

My own interest in the subject was aroused by experience with pellagra during the period 1907-1918 when the disease was so prevalent in the southern states where it assumed the gravest proportions.