Inflammation of the Spinal Cord.
The, membranes which surround the cord may be inflamed just those are which enclose the brain; but as the cavity running through the spine is quite small, there cannot very well be inflammation of the membranes without its involving the cord at the same time.
Symptoms. Pains, often intense, running along the spine, extending out into the limbs, and made worse by motion. They are similar, in some respects, to rheumatic pains. There is rigid contraction, and sometimes violent spasms of the muscles of the back and neck, so great, at times, as to bend the body back into the shape of a hoop; also a feeling of constriction in various parts, as if they were girt by a tight string; a sense of suffocation; retention of urine; a most obstinate constipation and frequent chills or rigors. The pain which is felt along the cord is aggravated by rapping upon the spine, but not by pressure.
The above symptoms are supposed to be the result of inflammation predominating in the membranes. When its seat is more particularly in the substance of the cord, the symptoms are, convulsive affections of the head and face, inarticulate speech, loss of voice, squinting, and difficulty of swallowing, if the extreme upper part of the cord is inflamed; if the disease be slightly lower, difficulty of breathing, irregular action of the heart, and tightness of the chest; ff lower still, vomiting, pain in the belly, sensation of a cord tied round the abdomen, pain and heat in passing water, retention of the urine, inability to retain the urine, desire to go to stool, or involuntary stools.
Spasm and stiffness, then, are the results of inflammation of the membranes; convulsions and palsy, of the same affection of the cord.
Treatment. When the inflammation is acute, apply counter irritation along the sides of the spine. In chronic inflammation, powerful friction, mustard plasters, or stimulating liniments (190) will generally answer the purpose.
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