site logo


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.