Back Failures

Sources: Papers On Health

Often a severe pain in the toe, foot, ankle, or lower

leg has its cause, not in anything wrong with the part which is

painful, but in some failure of nerve in the patient's back.

Blistering or other treatment of the painful part will often injure,

and cannot do much, in any case, to cure. Pains even in the knee and

groin sometimes have the same cause--in back failure. In other cases

the symptoms are, weariness, stiffness, inability to stoop, or stand

long without support, and pains in the stomach and thighs.

A little thought will enable any one to distinguish between pains due

to back failure and those due to local causes. If there is no

appearance of anything wrong at the part pained, then the evil is

probably in the back. It is even a good rule to consider the pain at

first as due to back failure rather than local causes, for by treatment

of the back the local trouble, when that is present, is much helped and


In the case of pains in the arms or hands, the upper part of the back

is indicated; in leg and foot troubles, the lower part. Neuralgic

pains are almost always of this class.

In any case of this kind, heat may be applied to the spine, and rubbing

with hot oil given to it, at its upper or lower part as required. If

the heat and rubbing increase the pain, then cold applications may be

used. Sometimes heat and cold may be needed alternately; but common

sense must guide, and all irritation or chilling of the patient must be

carefully avoided.

The best manner of applying cold to the spine is described in article

on Angina Pectoris. Towels are folded as there directed. The moist one

(well wrung out) is placed next the spine, either over the part desired

or the whole spine. The dry one is placed over this, and the patient

lies down on his back on the top of them; or, if he cannot lie, as

sometimes happens, the towels are gently pressed with the hand against

the spine until sufficient cooling has resulted. The patient should

never be made to shiver. If he feels chilly, hot fomentations to the

feet and legs, as described in article on Angina Pectoris, may be