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.
Tenderness of the spine, at one or more points, which is increased by pressure; pain produced in the spinal cord by percussion and by motion of the spinal column; vertigo; headache; noise in the ears; disturbed sleep; neuralgic pains in the back and chest; neuralgia of the stomach; nausea and vomiting; heart-burn; palpitations; difficulty in breathing; pain beneath the breast; pains in the lower limbs; difficulty in urination; ovarian pain.
This affection is a very common one, especially among women. We do not, however, consider it to be a primary disorder, as we have never yet met with a case of spinal irritation in which there was not some affection of the digestive, generative, or other organs to which it could be fairly attributed. The morbid condition in this affection is supposed to be lack of a proper quantity of blood, and deficiency in the quality of the blood circulated through the spinal cord. The pain is located almost wholly external to the spinal cord. It is, as was just mentioned, symptomatic of other internal affections.
Sexual excesses of various kinds, particularly self-abuse, is one of the most common of all the causes of this disease. We have met many cases in which the disease was produced by the last-mentioned cause in both sexes. One of the most marked of these we may be pardoned for describing in some detail. The patient was a young lady from a western city, whose adopted parents, after consulting many different physicians for a peculiar disease of the breast, placed her under our care. We found her a good-looking young woman about seventeen years of age, rather pale and considerably emaciated, very nervous and hysterical, and suffering with severe pain in the left breast, which was swollen to nearly double the natural size, hot, tense, pulsating, and extremely tender to the touch. Occasionally she would experience paroxysms in which she apparently suffered extremely, being sometimes semi-conscious, and scarcely breathing for hours. The spine was also extremely sensitive to the touch. We suspected the cause of these peculiar manifestations at the outset, but every suggestion of the possibility of the suspected cause was met with a stout denial and a very deceptive appearance of innocent ignorance on the subject. All treatment was unavailing to check the disease. Though sometimes the symptoms seemed to be controlled, a speedy relapse occurred, so that no progress toward a cure was made. Finally our conviction that our first impression respecting the case was correct became so strong that we hesitated no longer to treat it accordingly. By most vigilant observation, evidences of the soul-corrupting vice were detected which we considered unmistakable, and then the young woman, who had pretended such profound ignorance of the matter, confessed to an extent of wickedness which was perfectly appalling. Every paroxysm was traced to an unusual excess of sinful indulgence. So hardened was she by her evil practices that she seemed to feel no remorse, and only promised to reform when threatened with exposure to her parents unless she immediately ceased the vile practice. In less than ten days the mysterious symptoms which had puzzled many physicians disappeared altogether. The swollen, tender breast was no larger than the other, and was so entirely restored that she was able to strike it a full blow without pain. Upon examination we found that the spinal tenderness had also disappeared.
This is by no means the only cause of spinal irritation. We have found very many cases in which it was evidently due to disorders of digestion, to diseases of the womb, and to various other diseases.