Neuralgia


Sources: Papers On Health

This is severe pain in one part or other of the body,

sometimes followed by swelling of the painful part, but frequently

without much sign of anything wrong at that point. It is, as the name

implies, a trouble affecting the nerves which are connected with the

painful part, and usually there is nothing whatever wrong where the

pain is felt. Where, however, violent pain in the head or jaws results

from chill, there is an altogether different trouble, though it is

often called by the same name.



We have seen a man who had been in agony all night with pain all over

his head. We took a large piece of flannel, about the size of a small

blanket, rolled it up so as to get about a quart of boiling water

poured into the heart of the roll. We kneaded the whole for a little

time, to have the heat and moisture well diffused through the flannel.

We now placed a large towel fourfold on the pillow under the patient's

head, so that it could be brought as a good covering over the hot

blanket when that was on. We opened up the blanket steaming hot and

laid the head in the heart of it, bringing it carefully up all round,

then brought the large towel over all, and tucked him tidily in about

the shoulders. In less than two minutes he exclaimed, "I'm in

Paradise!" The pain was all gone, and in its place was a positive

sensation of delight. There was nothing here but a chilled skull to

deal with, and as soon as it felt the heat and relaxed, the man was

perfectly relieved. Then came the question as to how what had been got

was to be secured, so that he might continue well. After he lay about

three-quarters of an hour in this hot fomentation of the head, we took

it off, and rubbed gently some warm olive oil into the roots of the

hair, and all around the head and neck. We then gave all a good dry

rubbing with a hard towel, and covered up his head carefully, and kept

it covered for a day or two. He required no more treatment of any kind.



But when this treatment increases the pain, or fails altogether to

remove it, we have a trouble which calls for the very opposite

treatment. Then we have true neuralgia, which may be in any part of

the body, and which is relieved by cooling the roots of the nerves

which supply that part. For the face and jaws, cold must be applied to

the back of the head, neck, or brain generally. For pains in arms, cold

is to be applied to the upper, and for pain in legs to the lower part

of the spine; for pain in the body, cool the whole length of the spine.

The cooling is done by cloths moistened in cold water and well wrung

out, pressed on gently over the part, and renewed as they grow warm. If

the patient feels chilly, foment or bathe the feet and legs up to the

knees during the process of cooling. This may require to be done for an

hour. Finish by rubbing the parts cooled with hot vinegar and olive

oil, and wiping off.



Even young people are exposed to a great deal of suffering from this

source, and we feel sure that every one of these may be at once

relieved and cured by the vigorous use of the cold compress. When the

patient is warm in bed, the cold compress is one of the most delightful

of applications; and the warm olive oil, to keep what has been got,

make up a real blessing for the sufferer.



We have seen cases in which the cold compress has been applied up and

down the spine, but not with that full effect which could be desired.

Somehow it has not power enough in the hands applying it to reach the

roots of the evil. The want in such a case is generally of a person

sufficiently skilful in the use of the cold towel. There is a way of

pressing it gently over all the parts under which the affected nerves

lie, which secures the cooling of those roots very effectually. But

such skill is not always at hand when needed. Well, mustard is spread

over the surface of the cold towel, and the compress, thus increased in

power, is placed all along the centre of the back. We find that very

soon the pain begins to moderate, and ere long it has ceased. If it has

to be applied more than once, cayenne is greatly to be preferred. The

pepper does not hurt the skin, the mustard very soon does. A cold damp

towel, folded at least four-ply, and placed properly, after being

sprinkled well with cayenne, has an excellent effect.



In wild toothache, or bad nerve pain in the head, massage all over the

head for a considerable time will often cure. We know cases in which

agonising pain was thus removed years ago, and it has never returned.

There was first rubbing, in a gentle soothing way, over the whole head.

At a certain point, that began to lose its soothing influence. The cold

towel was then wrapped round the head, and gently pressed. As soon as

it warmed it was changed. This was done for perhaps three or four

minutes, and the rubbing repeated. The whole was kept up for about an

hour. All pain and uneasiness were then gone, and there was no return

of either.



It will be seen that it is essential properly to distinguish between

the pain requiring heat and that requiring cold for treatment. In any

case it is safe first to try the heat. Failing relief with this, the

cold may be tried. Sometimes the cooling of the head and spine succeeds

in driving off several attacks, but eventually fails to relieve. If in

such a case the cold is applied over the stomach, there is frequently

almost instant relief. Where the attacks can be traced to indigestion,

or come on always a certain time after a meal, this is the proper

method from the first. Where a decayed tooth is the cause of pain, of

course go to the dentist.





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