Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V23, Page 238 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MUSCULAR RHEUMATISM.—By this is understood a painful affection of certain groups of muscles attributable to inflammation of their fibrous and tendinous attachments. It is commonly brought on by exposure to cold and wet, and especially by a chill after violent exercise and free perspiration when the clothes are not changed. Any movement of the affected muscles gives rise to severe and sharp pain which may induce a certain degree of spasm and rigidity at the time. The pain usually subsides and passes off completely while the patient is at rest, but occurs on the slightest movement of the affected muscles. The chief varieties of muscular rheumatism are: r. Lumbago, in which the muscles of the lower part of the back are affected so that stooping, particularly the attempt to rise again to the erect position, induces severe pain. 2. Intercostal rheumatism, affecting the muscles between the ribs, so that taking a deep breath and certain movements of the arms give rise to pain. 3. Torticollis or stiff neck, affecting the muscles of one side of the neck. Treatment.—Salicylates, which are of service in acute rheumatism, are not so reliable in the chronic varieties, but are some-times of service. Aspirin, salicin, quinine and iodide of potassium may be more successful, but other active treatment is usually required. The application of heat in the form of poultices or fomentations, counter irritation by mustard leaves or blisters, are indicated in some cases. In others massage, hot douches, or electricity may be required. Mineral waters and baths of various health resorts are often of great benefit in obstinate cases, such as those of Buxton, Bath, Harrogate, Woodhall Spa, &c., in England, or of Aix-les-Bains, Wiesbaden, Wildbad, &c., and many others on the continent of Europe. Wintering abroad in warm, dry and sunny climates may be advisable in some cases when this is practicable. (J. F. H. B.)

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