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Source: 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
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
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