RENOWNED Italian artist Michelangelo likely suffered from arthritis in his later years, but addiction to work may have extended the use of his hands right up until he died, a new study suggests.
Prolonged hammering and chiselling accelerated degenerative arthritis in the hands of Michelangelo, sculptor, painter and one of the greatest artists of all time.
However, the intense work probably helped him keep the use of his hands until he died, researchers went on to say.
Doctors analysed three portraits of Michelangelo between the ages of 60 and 65 which show that the small joints of his left hand were affected by non-inflammatory degenerative changes that can be interpreted as osteoarthritis.
In earlier portraits of the artist his hands appear with no signs of deformity.
"It is clear from the literature that Michelangelo was afflicted by an illness involving his joints. In the past this has been attributed to gout but our analysis shows this can be dismissed," said lead author Davide Lazzeri, a specialist in plastic reconstructive and aesthetic surgery at the Villa Salaria Clinic in Italy.