Sources: Papers On Health
Diseased bone is not incurable. Bone is indeed
constantly being replaced as it disappears in the ordinary waste of the
body. Defective vitality in any part may cause an accumulation of bad
material, which forms the basis of bone disease.
To cut off a diseased foot or ankle is easy, and soon done. To cure it,
may take a long time and much patience, but is worth a great deal. We
know large numbers of limbs that are sound and good now, that were
doomed once to be amputated, but which we were able to rescue in time.
Moreover, a very short time of well-regulated fomentation improves the
general health, and prevents the diseased material spreading from the
foot or ankle through the body.
Take, then, a case in which the ankle bone has first become painful,
perhaps without any perceptible cause, or it may be as the result of an
injury to the part. It then swells and becomes inflamed. At this stage
two or three fomentations (see) well applied may very likely cure it
entirely. But if neglected, or leeched, blistered, and the skin spoiled
with iodine, what is called disease of the bone may set in, accompanied
with discharge of matter at one or more places on the ankle. This
discharge, where it is evidently lodging in the limb, may be assisted
to escape by careful lancing by a good surgeon. For such a case,
fomentation of as much of the limb as possible is the treatment. Let a
bath be procured, in which the limb may be immersed in hot water as
deeply as possible, even up to the very thigh. Let the water at first
be comfortably warm. Increase its temperature gradually until as hot as
can be borne without pain. Keep the limb in this bath for an hour, or
for such shorter period as the patient may be able to bear it. Gently
dry, and rub all over with warm olive oil. Wipe this gently off, and
cover the limb with clothing. Then syringe any sores with weak acid
(see Acetic Acid; Wounds), and dress with bandage (see Ankle,
Twisted). Do this twice each day, and persevere.
If it cannot well be bathed, let it be fomented by a large piece of
flannel soaked with boiling water, and placed round the diseased part.
We have seen a wasting bone healed entirely in a few weeks by this
means. We have seen a man with the bones of both his legs splintering
off and coming through the skin perfectly healed in a few months. It
stands to reason that it should be so. The bathing in his case, like
the fomenting in others, were so effectually done that the bones
themselves were heated, and strong healing action set in at once. We
saw lately a piece of dead bone above four inches long come out of a
young man's arm as the result of nothing else but fomentation. The arm
was soon as whole and as useful as could be desired, though it had been
to all appearance only fit to be taken off at the elbow. The steady
supply of moist heat does wonders in this way.
We have seen some most remarkable specimens of what was erroneously
thought sufficient fomentation. One was a case of diseased thigh-bone.
A bit of old flannel, about a quarter of a yard square, had been wrung
out of water slightly tepid and laid on the skin, covered by a little
cloth scarcely equal in size. The application would not have conveyed
activity to the skin on which it was laid, though it required to convey
it to the heart of a large mass of bone. The helpless complaint of the
operator was that it did no good. How in the world could it do good?
Not less than six or seven or even eight yards of a blanket are
required. That is to be folded and rolled up so that a good quantity of
boiling water may be poured first into one end of it and then into the
other. It has to be squeezed and kneaded till the heated water and
steam are fairly soaking the inside of the blanket. When this is opened
up, it is far too hot to put to the skin, but a double flannel or
strong towel may be put on first, so that the heat shall go gradually
through to the body, and by-and-by into the bone. This may be done at
least once a day--if agreeable, it may be done twice. But it must be so
well done that the heat shall effect the bone, or you cannot look for
any result of importance.
If under the bathing the skin becomes irritated, as it will often do,
cover it with cloths soaked in weak vinegar till the bathing is over.
If the skin suffers from the fomentation, do the same thing, and if
this does not cure, dress it, before putting on the fomentation
flannels, with SOAP (see) lather as if for shaving, spread like
butter on a cloth, and made to shelter the skin from irritation till
the fomenting is done. This is of great importance in many cases; the
skin is often so sensitive that it cannot well be bathed without being
In the case of hip-joint disease, the ARMCHAIR FOMENTATION (see) is
the best form of fomenting. For other parts, common sense will guide
how to produce an extensive and thorough heating of the diseased part
and its neighbourhood by some similar means (see Bathing the Feet;
Pains, etc.). It is only heating the failed tissues, only keeping on
such heating, and all the elements of perfect cure are supplied. Even
limbs which have shrunk and become shorter, grow out to their natural
size under this patient heating.
Get "steel drops" and all such-like sent down the sewer. The rats may
have them if they are disposed. Give wheaten or oatmeal porridge, bread
or Saltcoats biscuits, with good buttermilk, and the poor creature,
half dead with poisonous "drops," begins ere long to have red on his
lips and on his cheeks, some fresh vigour in his muscles, and healthy
bone in the course of formation, where bone was only wasting before.
How is this explained? On the simple principle that the bodily system
can turn wheaten meal into all the elements wanted for good bodily
health. Beef tea, soups, "fine things" of all descriptions, never on
earth gave human beings solid strength, but in myriads of cases they
have been successfully employed to take it away. Above all, they fail
to give healthy bone.
Get the patient to take wheaten or oaten meal porridge twice a day at
least. We are not so stern as some in forbidding all else, though in
this we may fall short; but by all means let eating and drinking be
considered in the light of what we have been writing (see Food in
Good air is important in this, as in all cases of ill-health.
Much depends, in this treatment, on cheerfulness of mind. Let the
patient feel that he is going to be cured. Avoid opium, tobacco,
alcoholic drinks, and all worry. This will actually increase the vital
exchange in the body and very much help the cure.