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Category: Diseases of The Nervous System

A neuralgia of one or more of the intercostal
nerves. These nerves run in a groove in the lower edge of the ribs.
Causes. It may develop without any special cause. It comes in anemia,
after exposure to cold, from affection of the vertebrae, ribs, spinal
cord, or from the pressure of tumors, or aneurism of the aorta. This is
next in importance to neuralgia of the fifth nerve, and occurs more often
in women and very common in those who have hysteria. It is more common on
the left side and mostly in the nerves situated from the fifth to the
ninth intercostal space. If it is located in the nerves distributed to the
mammary glands it gives rise to neuralgia of the mammary gland. The flying
darts of pain in the chest (pleurodynia) are to be regarded as neuralgic
in character.

Symptoms. The pain is usually very severe, especially on movement of the
intercostal (between the ribs) muscles. With this pain, as a rule, an
eruption (herpes) appears along the course of the affected nerve and this
is supposed to be due to the extension of the inflammation from the
nerve-ends to the skin. Pain, when pressed upon, is most marked near the
spinal vertebral, the breastbone (sternal) end and the middle part of the
nerve. The trouble may continue a long time after the eruption (herpes)
has disappeared, for it is very obstinate.

PHYSICIANS' TREATMENT for Intercostal Neuralgia. This consists in using
remedies that will cause counter-irritation. Electricity and pain
destroying (anodynes) remedies are indicated in chronic cases. Apply heat
for pain in the "breasts." For the eruption an ointment like oxide of zinc
can be used.

Local Treatment. A mustard plaster is frequently good to use. It produces
the counter-irritation desired. Application of dry heat from hot cloths; a
hot sand bag may help in some cases. A rubber bag containing hot water can
also be used. Fomentations of hops, etc., applied hot and frequently
changed to keep them hot are beneficial in some cases. I have found in
some cases that an adhesive plaster put over the sore parts relieves the
severe pain. Porous plasters are also good. Tincture of ranunculus
bulbosus (buttercup) is a good remedy. Put ten drops in a glass half full
of water, and take two teaspoonfuls every hour.



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