This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
Begins as a dull, heavy ache in the back and upper portion of the thigh; pain gradually becomes more intense, and is increased by motion of the affected limb; sometimes accompanied by cramps in the muscles of the limb.
This is, perhaps, the most common of all forms of neuralgia. A patient who has had one attack is much more liable to subsequent ones. The disease sometimes passes away in a few days, but generally lasts from four to twelve weeks, and may become chronic.
The causes of sciatica are essentially the same as those which produce other neuralgias. It is sometimes produced by sitting on a hard chair a long time. Severe exertion with the limbs also some times excites an attack. Cases are mentioned in which it has been occasioned by an enlarged prostate gland; a predisposition to the disease is produced by a weak or depressed state of the system.
In addition to hot baths, hot packs, hot fomentations, hot and cold applications, and the use of electricity, all of which remedies have been fully described in the description of treatment for neuralgia, obstinate cases sometimes require still other measures. We have, in some instances, obtained relief by a method of freezing.
In other cases, we have succeeded by the injection of cold water by means of the hypodermic syringe, the injection being made at the seat of pain, as near as possible to the affected nerve. Pricking the nerve with a needle, in some casts gives magical relief. The practice of nerve stretching has lately been recommended for cases which are not otherwise relieved. The operation is a somewhat formidable one, it being necessary to open the tissues down to the nerve trunk, draw out the nerve, and stretch it with considerable force. Good results have been reported in the use of this measure in quite a number of cases; but we have never resorted to it, having found other measures effective in all the cases which we have treated. In a few very obstinate cases we have found it necessary to resort to the injection of a few drops of chloroform by means of the hypodermic syringe, the injection being made into the nerve itself, or as near to it as possible. The method of treatment known as electro-puncturing has also been used by a number of eminent physicians with great success. It consists in applying electricity to the nerve itself by means of a needle passed into it. A very mild current is used.
In this affection, the large nerve on the anterior and inner side of the limb is affected. The symptoms of the disease, with the exception of the location of the pain, are the same as those of sciatica. Causes and treatment are also essentially the same.