Deformities and Irritations of the Spine.
Lateral Curvature. There are several varieties of curvature of the spine. Some of them are caused by the destruction of some portion of the spinal column by disease. It will not be necessary for me to treat of these forms of curvature, as they can only be investigated and treated by the most skilful surgeons. Those who will use this book chiefly, would hardly think of meddling with them.
The curvature which arises from debility of the bones, ligaments, and muscles, and which is very common among females, has the following symptoms.
Symptoms. At first there is a projection of one collar bone, or one side of the chest, or one shoulder is
considerably elevated, and is popularly thought to be ,growing out." On examination, the right shoulder and the right side of the chest will be found, generally, to be rounded and lifted up, while the other is sunk down and concave. At the same time, the left hip sticks out, and the loins on the right side have an inward curve. The spinal column will have a curve, as in Fig. 182.
Causes. This affection is caused by occupations which keep the body in a laterally distorted position, and tax one side of the body more than the other. It is produced in children who study their lessons at school with one elbow resting on a high desk. The muscles,too, get so weakened in many females of luxurious, sedentary and indolent habits, that they cannot hold the bony frame of the body in an upright position, and the jointed column of bones, called the spine, sags down to one side, and draws the whole skeleton of the trunk out of shape. INSERTIMAGE
Treatment. The first thing to be done is to learn what particular attitude of the body has occasioned the distortion. This discovered, every possible effort is to be made to break up the habit, whatever it may be. If it be standing on one foot, or sleeping on one side, or reading or writing with the elbow high, keep a constant watch and strict rule over the patient.
Exercise in the open air should be free, and taken daily. The use of the dumb bells is excellent for both sexes; but girls should, in addition, have all the variety of elegant exercise furnished by calisthenics. Wealthy parents, whose daughters are tenderly bred, should never let them grow up without the invigoration which these exercises impart.
When the curvature is marked, and the debility considerable, these vigorous exercises should be taken for a time with moderation, and the patient should lie down and rest immediately after taking them.
In many cases considerable benefit is derived from the mechanical support afforded by supporters of various kinds. These are now constructed and adapted to the body, with considerable skill, by those who make their construction a study and a business.
Spinal Irritation. The spinal column is liable, at certain points, to become congested, and consequently sore and irritable.
Symptoms. The symptoms of this state of things are very variable and numerous, as all sorts of sensations of the skin, from utter numbness and insensibility up to the most acute sensitiveness, described as creeping, shooting, coldness, tingling and the crawling of ants. There may be neuralgic pains, spasm, cramp, trembling or palsy of the voluntary muscles; or a fixed pain and tenderness in some joint or other part; or palpitation of the heart, dizziness and wind and pain in the stomach.
When any of these symptoms appear, and cannot be traced to any other cause, we are to suspect some irritability of the spinal column. and to search, accordingly, in that direction. The proper method of search is, to make firm pressure on each of the projections of the spine, and to pass over the projections a sponge wrung out of hot water. If there be trouble here, the patient will now be likely to complain of severe pain at some one point. Or, the tender place will generally be found sooner, by tapping with the ends of the fingers, with quick and sharp strokes along upon the projecting bones of the spine. The patient will be pretty sure to wince when the tender point is reached.
Treatment. Apply a medical electric battery or stimulating liniment, or some strong, slightly irritating plaster, and the tender. ness will be very likely to disappear, as if by magic.
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