Categories: Constitutional Diseases
Causes. Heredity may predispose to it. It is most
common in those who are exposed to hard labor in the cold and wet;
especially in women about middle age. It occasionally follows sub-acute,
but rarely acute rheumatism.
Symptoms. Many large joints are usually affected; sometimes it may be
only one joint; at times, the small joints only are affected. It may be
only on the one side. It usually persists in the joint
involved, but may
attack others. The chief symptoms are stiffness of the joints, especially
after a rest and this diminishes after some motion, also pain, which grows
worse in damp weather. The joints may be tender to the touch, slightly
swollen, rarely red. They may in time become entirely stiff and deformed.
The general health may be good or there may be anemia, dyspepsia and
valvular disease due to sclerosis,--hardening of the valves of the heart.
Prognosis. This is good as to life, but the disease is often progressive.
Treatment. Preventive. A warm, dry, unchangeable climate, good
surroundings, good food; keep the stomach and bowels and kidneys in good
condition, avoid taking cold. Do not sit down in a draft to "cool off." Do
not go into a cool room in summer when you are warm or sweated. Do not
sleep in a bed that has not been used for months and kept for "company."
Do not dry your clothes in the kitchen and in that way make the whole
house steamy and damp. Do not sleep under unaired damp covers or in a damp
night dress. Always air and dry your bedding and night dress before using.
Do not take a hot bath and go into a cool room to cool off, but wrap
yourself up so as to be warm and cool off gradually. Any additional cold
will cause more rheumatism.
Sleeping rooms on the first floor are an abomination for rheumatic
persons. Do not sit down in wet clothes, stockings or shoes. Take them off
immediately on getting home, wipe yourself dry and put on dry garments.
Care in such little seemingly foolish things will do wonderful things for
a rheumatic person. I had two rheumatic attacks in my first year of
practice. Since then I have learned caution and through a hard and busy
life I have kept myself reasonably well by looking after such little aids
and cautions as, the above. I never sit down for any length of time in
damp or wet clothes, and if I can do that, persons that are not driven
like doctors can do the same. These cautions apply to not only this kind
of rheumatism, but to all kinds of rheumatism, neuralgias, and to
inflammatory diseases, such as neuritis, tonsilitis, pneumonia, pleurisy,
etc. Hot air baths, Hot Springs, massage will be more effectual in this
disease than in the former. Iodide of potash also is very useful. Flannel
underwear, heavy and light weight, is very beneficial in rheumatism. Great
benefit can be derived at home by wrapping the affected joints in cold
cloths, covering with a thin layer of flannel and protected by oiled silk.
A great many cases are helped by using hot fomentations of hops, wormwood,
smartweed, etc. Turpentine applied locally to the joints is effective, but
it is very likely to injure the kidneys when used freely and in these days
when there are so many diseases of the kidneys one must be careful or they
will produce an incurable and serious disease in the place of one that is
painful, but not necessarily dangerous. Many of the simple remedies have a
good effect on the rheumatic troubles.