RHEUMATISM

By DR. DOROTHY SHEPHERD.

 

AFTER two years of drought England is once more living up to its reputation of grey, weeping skies and damp muddy roads, and we shall get again our usual crop of rheumatism and allied diseases due to exposure to wet, though there is another class of case which is more affected by heat and dry atmosphere. I recall the pathetic wail of a man in one of the daily papers in which he condemns the incompetence of the medical profession in being unable to deal successfully with such common or garden complaints as rheumatism and “can somebody tell me,” he plaintively writes, “why rheumatism, which is a wet weather disease, comes on with me during the height of summer.

If it is a brilliantly warm cloudless day I am crippled, and, moreover, when I get into bed and get comfortable and hot, then my enemy, rheumatism, begins to plague me, and doctors only shrug their shoulders and do nothing.” One wished that this poor man could have been introduced to Homoeopathy. He describes the pains which are found under Sulphur and which Sulphur alone would rapidly remove. A Sulphur patient revels in the damp and cold, he is limber and active in the damp, but during a dry, warm, summery spell, he gets the knees of a worn-out cab horse, painfully and stiffly he drags along.

He hates the nights, for the warmth of the bed heats up his muscles so that they burn and ache, and he has to search for the cool places in the bed or hand his feet out, and how easily he gets cured one he gets under the right regime !

It may be just muscular rheumatism or myalgia or rheumatic fever or even that dreaded rheumatoid arthritis where the deeper structures of the joints are affected; if you find these symptoms Sulphur will help: quickly in muscular rheumatism and more slowly in rheumatic fever, you have to repeat the doses more often in an acute inflammatory condition, and where there are organic changes such as you find in arthritis, you will have to wait some time before the recuperative forces of nature are able to undo the damage that has been done and loosen up the stiffened joints.

There was a lady who came some time ago from the West of England with the tag “Arthritis”, she had been crippled with arthritis of the left knee for over a year or more, and was unable to do much or enjoy life with her husband. Her sister had been cured very quickly by homoeopathy some years previously of her rheumatic knee by alternate does of Rhus tox. and Bryonia; a very favourite prescription of mine if the symptoms agree, and one has the authority of Hahnemann for this alternation.

Well, this good lady arrived, her left knee was stiff, she could not bend it at all and had to sit very gingerly on the edge of the chair with her leg out in front of her: there was tightening of the hamstring muscles at the back of the knee, but no definite involvement of the knee joint; she could not kneel and walking was a great trial to her. The symptoms again worked to Rhus tox. and Rhus tox. 6 in pellets, three time only was prescribed. One did not see her again for six months or so.

For some reason or another she had been unable to come up town to report, but had continued with the pellets, and when she paid the second visit she was able to bend the knee and there was only a slight tenseness of the muscles behind the knee, and then at the third visit she only came to report complete recovery; she was as spry as ever she had been before, and marvelled only how a few small pellets could make such a difference, when all the other remedies she had tried had proved a failure.

Yes, Rhus tox. is a miracle worker in rheumatic troubles, if you have Rhus tox. symptoms, the exposure to damp, the stiffness and pain on first beginning to move which disappear on continued motion. There is fibrositis, a new favourite diagnosis of the present day Aesculapias, which is only another name for the old fashioned rheumatism. You feel the hard nodules in the muscles which are so painful to touch and movement and which take such ages to remove with massage and hot air baths and radiant heat, etc.

By the by, dont put a Sulphur patient into hot air baths or give him radiant heat, and if by chance he is a peppery old colonel, you will hear about it if you start up his pains with the radiant heat or the infra red rays. Give the patient with the fibrotic nodules the remedy which is indicated by this symptom, and if they are only recent nodules they will melt away in a very short time; if they are old and thick they will take longer, but they will go, too.

I am not decrying such auxiliary measures as infra red lamps of Turkish baths or radiant heat; they are very soothing and comforting and often very helpful, and sometimes when the indicated homoeopathic medicine takes a long time to act, which in a long standing chronic case is often the case, all these accessory measures are of use, as the individual patient feels something is being done, and the psychological effect of coloured lamps and infra red rays is not to be despised.

One remembers a case far advanced with rheumatoid arthritis, there were the typical pear-shaped swellings of the wrists and ankles: she was not able to raise her arms in order to attend to her hair even; she was brought at first in a bath chair as she could not walk. I dont know how many years she had been like it. She had radiant heat and infra red heat; faithfully she came twice a week for two years, and gradually the distorted joints took on a more normal appearance, the movements became freer and easier. She could do her own hair, she discarded her bath chair and became tripping along on her own feet.

She was able to discard various artificial appliances to correct flat food, and she was very pleased with herself. But I was not; the moment she gave up her light treatment back would come the pains, and the muscles would tighten up again. One bethought oneself, why not try homoeopathic medication.

I know some of the homoeopathic writes do not hold out much hope in advanced cases of crippling arthritis, but why not try? One took some of the symptoms and one found that she was a gentle, timid soul, easily moved to tears, affected by warm weather, even though she liked warmth for her local aches and pains; she disliked fat food, and Pulsatilla was so plainly her constitutional remedy that she was given Pulsatilla and after three months on Pulsatilla continued with artificial sunlight treatment the progress was not only more rapid but it was maintained without the aid of further light baths.

This is over two years ago. Nobody would know nowadays, looking at her joints, that she had arthritis, she has had no return of pain or crippling stiffness and deformity, and had had no treatment during all this time. And she continues well, so the report goes. The remarkable point was that three months homoeopathic treatment equalled in her case nearly one years treatment without it. That is her progress during the last three months under homoeopathy, very much quicker than during the twelve months on light treatment alone, and, moreover, it was maintained. A very satisfactory result from the patients point of view.

Some time ago it was mentioned in the press that bee-keepers very rarely suffered from rheumatism, and the bright suggestion was made that people should allow themselves to be stung in order to cure their rheumatism. A very painful and unpleasant procedure ! The homoeopaths have known of the action of the bee poison in rheumatism for over 100 years, ever since Hahnemanns days in the eighteenth century.

But it only acts in a certain type of rheumatism, and only through the homoeopathic way of taking a case and finding the symptoms can you cure the kind of rheumatism which yields to Apis, the poison of the honey bee, and you do not often come across Apis symptoms except in acute inflammation of the joints. One remembers the case of a nurse who presented such an Apis picture: Inflammation of the right knee joint, which looked red, felt hot to touch and pitted on pressure.

There was oedema all round; she complained of stinging and burning pains in the joints which were worse in the warm bed, worse hot application, worse sitting near the warm stove; all this nearly drove her crazy. I found her sitting up in a cold room with the knee exposed to the cold air, and basin of cold water near her, which she applied to her knee to cool the burning and stinging in the joints. One soon saw that this could only be Apis, and Apis m, four hourly, was prescribed, and the relief was instantaneous almost. In twenty-four hours the swelling had gone down, and a week later the patient was back at work.

It is no use to apply the bee poison to all and sundry rheumatic patients, you would have many failures; it would only do good in those cases which present the typical Apis symptoms: the swelling, oedema, redness, tenderness to touch, the burning, stinging pains which are made worse by heat. Take each case of rheumatism individually and find out the particulars, the aggravations, the amelioration of the pains, the cause of the rheumatism, and you will get cures in almost every case.

One remembers a young woman, she had been to the winter sports and came back crippled with rheumatism. One found out that she had become hot skating, it was brilliant warm sunshine, she had thrown off some of her clothes, suddenly a cold wind had come up, the sun had gone behind clouds and it had begun to snow. The result of the sudden change from hot to a cold temperature and the exposure to cold, damp snow plus the suppressed perspiration had led to rheumatism of the neck muscles and back.

This was a typical Dulcamara case and Dulcamara speedily put her right. You will get Dulcamara rheumatism frequently in climates where there are great differences in temperature within twenty-four hours, and in England especially in the autumn warm sunny days and cold nights, especially if there is a cold damp atmosphere, if heavy rain follows on a warm day.

One remembers another patient, she was an elderly woman who suffered a great deal from stiffness in the neck and pains in the head, shooting tearing pains, so that she had to wrap up her neck and head to get relief. These pains were always worse in cold wet weather.

I tried Dulcamara with very little benefit. On further enquiry she volunteered the information that she always knew when there was thunder about, for the pains became unbearable before a thunder storm. Rhododendron has such an aggravation before thunder storm and Rhod. 1M, four hourly, for a week, cleared up the pains and the stiffness which had lasted for many weeks.

“Stiff neck” is quite a common rheumatic affection: Rhus tox. and Bryonia often helps, but there is another remedy which has a particular relationship to the muscles of the nape of the neck and that is the American plant, Cimicifuga: a Black Cohosh. Shall we quote a case illustrating the effect this medicine has? A stout middle aged woman was seen at the Dispensary: her head was drawn back and she could not turn it either to the right or the left.

She could not lie on her back because the muscles of the back were tightly contracted, neither could she lie on her side because the muscles jumped and jerked. She was extremely depressed and gloomy about her condition, nothing could do her any good, she could not get well, she was gone. It was no use trying. She was persuaded to try the Cimicifuga: she was not told, of course, what she had. She thought she got some kind of aspirin, but it was Cimicifuga in very minute dosage — in fact Cimicifuga 30, three hourly, and the next time she was seen all the depression and gloom had gone; the muscles of the nape of the neck were soft and flexible.

She could turn her head whichever way she wished, and all this in less than forty-eight hours. And for a wonder she was quite grateful ! The late Dr. Clarke speaks very highly of the action of the resinoid Macrotin found in this plant. He usually used the Macrotin found in this plant. He usually used the Macrotin in the 3x trituration for lumbago and stiff neck. One has not so far had occasion to use this resinoid, but should a case come along with the Cimicifuga particulars, one would then apply the Macrotin on Dr. Clarkes authority and expect a cure.

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