This section is from the book "Smith's Family Physician", by William Henry Smith. See also: Natural Physician's Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies that Medical Doctors Don't Know.
Pain in the kidney is commonly, but not always, produced by the passage of a stone or gravel from the kidneys toward the bladder. The passage of gravel from the kidney sometimes does, and sometimes does not produce inflammation of the gland. Inflammation may be excited by gravel lodged in the kidney; by a blow or fall upon the loins, by scrofulous disease, by the internal administration of Cantharides, or Turpentine; or it may arise under the influence of cold.
The symptoms are pain, sometimes dull, but more frequently very severe, in the loins, usually on one side; numbness of the corresponding thigh; in the male, retraction and perhaps pain in the testicle; a frequent desire to make water, which is generally high-coloured; nausea and vomiting; with feverish symptoms. Pains in the Kidney require to be distinguished on the one hand from rheumatic, and on the other from colic pains. In Lumbago there is pain in the back, and it may or may not be attended with fever; but the pain usually affects both sides, and is aggravated by such movements of the body as call the muscles of the loins into action, particularly by stooping. It originates frequently in some strain or effort of which the patient is made painfully conscious at the time. It is seldom accompanied by any special derangement of the urinary functions; and pain in the loins, depending upon Rheumatism, is not attended with nausea and vomiting.
The pain of colic is accompanied with sickness and retching; but the urinary functions are undisturbed; nor is there numbness of the thigh, or drawing up of the testicle. In reference to treatment, a mistake would be of no consequence, since the remedies that are proper in the one case are generally proper, or not improper in the other. If the pain be attended with fever, the same treatment would be necessary in each of the two diseases.
When inflammation of the kidney, no matter how produced, lasts for a certain time, without abatement, we may expect that the inflammation will end in suppuration. Which event is frequently marked by shiverings, by throbbing in the seat of pain, and sometimes by a remission of the pain. Suppuration leads to hectic fever, and in most cases, to a fatal termination.
Sometimes the matter finds its way out of the body through the natural passages, and appears in the urine.
When the inflammation is accompanied by fever, or the patient is young, strong, and plethoric, leeches should be applied as near the seat of pain as possible; and after the leeches, warm fomentations or a poultice should be applied. The bowels should be opened by Castor Oil or the Purgative Pills, (Cathartic Pills, No. 4.) The saline purgatives, Epsom Salts, and others of that class, are not recommended in this disease, as being likely to irritate the urinary organs; and, for the same reasons, blisters are prohibited. When the stomach is irritable, Castor Oil or warm Linseed Oil may be given in injections.
When there is no fever, and the pain is caused by the passing of a stone, after the bowels have been cleaned out by a purgative, it will be necessary to give Opium or Bromide of Potash, or Hydrate of Chloral to allay the pain. The Opium may either be taken in the form of pill, or it may be given as Laudanum in an injection. While feverish symptoms exist the patient should live on gruel, sago, tapioca, ground rice, milk, jelly of the Irish moss, and things of that kind, and abstain from wine and fermented liquors generally. Thin gruel or barley water will make the best drink.
Those who are liable to attacks of inflammation of the kidneys, should be careful to avoid getting wet in the feet, and likewise all exposures to cold; and they should only take moderate exercise.