This exceedingly painful disease is quite common in our ever-changing climate, and is alike the dread of the physician and patient, especially when developed in those in whom there is a hereditary predisposition to this kind of affection. Its constant liability to change from one part of the system to another, and even to attack some vital organ, renders it not only excessively painful, but highly annoying under any form of treatment. Notwithstanding Homoeopathy has shorn it of half its terrors, and abolished from the sick-room the painful and disgusting treatment so much in vogue in the allopathic school, yet under any treatment it is a disease to be dreaded, and one in which in violent cases we cannot always with certainty predict a speedy recovery.

Rheumatism is essentially an inflammation of the fibrous tissue, - sometimes however involving, as the disease extends, other tissues, - and most commonly seizes the fibrous parts, which lie around the joints, particularly the larger joints, although the inflammation frequently commences in the head, neck, chest, or arms, and extends to other parts of the body. So long as it is confined to the extremities, the pain may be excessive, deformity may ensue, but notwithstanding the severity of the symptoms but little danger to life is apprehended. Should however the disease strike some vital organ the danger is imminent.

Diagnosis

In acute rheumatism, languor, slight chills and general uneasiness are followed by swelling of some part of the system, accompanied with pain, heat, and generally more or less redness. The pains are exceedingly variable in character, sharp, lancinating, dull and throbbing, or numb aching, gnawing, or boring, aggravated by the slightest movement. The weight of the bed clothes is sometimes oppressive, and it is impossible to move the joints. The fever is high, pulse bounding and full, face flushed, the head aches, the urine is high-colored, turbid, acid, and sedimentious, and the patient is frequently drenched in sour-smelling perspiration. The tongue is red at the tip and edges, but the centre of it is covered with a whitish fur.

Acute rheumatism generally occurs between the age of fifteen and forty, although it is sometimes seen in children as early as three or four.

Chronic rheumatism differs materially from the acute form in the absence of fever, in the little or no constitutional disturbance, and in the pain being far less severe. In one from there is some heat and pain, and sometimes swelling of the joints. The pain is increased by pressure, motion, or warmth, but the appetite is good. In the other form there is a sense of coldness and stiffness in the painful joints.

Causes

Exposure to wet, cold, damp or changeable temperature, and sudden suppression of perspiration are the prominent causes.

Treatment

In the acute form where there is considerable swelling, heat and pain, frequently bathe the part affected with tepid water or with a mixture composed of ten drops of Arnica to six tablespoonfuls of water. If cold water is applied, see uwet bandage."

Aconite will be of advantage, where there is a dry skin, violent fever, thirst, redness of the cheeks, shooting, tearing pains, worse at night.

Dose

Put two drops, or twelve globules, in a glass half full of water, and give a teaspoonful every hour or two hours, according to the severity of the symptoms. It is frequently indicated in alternation with Bell., Rhus or Bry. when the remedies may be given either one or two hours apart.

Belladonna

Violent fever, congestion in the head, redness of the face and eyes; swelling with shining redness, shooting, burning pains, aggravated at night or by movement. Particularly indicated when the difficulty is felt in the upper extremities. It is often especially useful either after or in alternation with Acon, or Puls.

Dose

Same as Aconite.

Bryonia

Tearing, shooting pains on moving the parts, or pain flying about from one part to another; red and shining swelling; pains worse at night, or increased by the least movement; coldness and shivering or febrile heat, headache, bilious or gastric sufferings, stitching pain in the region of the liver, and pulsative headache. Frequently indicated after or in alternation with Acon. or Rhus.

Dose

Same as Aconite.

Rhus

Drawing, tensive and dragging, or wrenching, gnawing and boring pain; paralytic weakness and tingling in the affected parts; red and shining swelling; pains worse at night, during rest or in changeable weather. Frequently indicated after or in alternation with Am. or Bry.

Dose

Same as Aconite.

Pulsatilla

Pains passing rapidly from one part to another; drawing, tearing, or jerking pains, worse at night, in a warm room or on altering a position, sensation of paralysis in the parts affected, feeling of coldness on a change of weather; pain relieved by uncovering the limb to the open air.

Dose

Same as Aconite.

Colchicum

An important remedy both in acute and chronic rheumatism. There are lancinating, jerking or tearing pains, worse at night, and aggravated by motion or anxiety; or there may be only stiffness in the joints when attempting to walk, with swelling of the parts in the vicinity of the inflammation.

Dose

Two drops, or twelve globules, in a tumbler half full of water; in acute cases a teaspoonful every two or three hours, but in chronic cases, once in six or twelve hours.

Chamomilla

Dragging, tearing pains with a sensation of numbness or paralysis in the parts affected; pains worse at night; fever with burning or partial heat, preceded by shuddering; great agitation and tossing, with shivering and a desire to remain lying down. Dragging and rheumatic pains in the extremities, worse at night; aching pains on waking.

Dose

Two drops, or twelve globules, in a tumbler of water, a tablespoonful once in three or four hours.

Mercurius

Pains of a shooting, tearing or burning character, aggravated by the warmth of the bed and by cold or damp air, and worse towards morning; swelling and sometimes a sensation of coldness in the parts affected; profuse perspiration, but without producing relief. The pains principally affected the joints and bones.

Dose

A powder, or six globules on the tongue, once in three or four hours.

Nux-V

Sensation of torpor and numbness in the parts affected, with cramps and palpitation in the muscles, sensitiveness to cold, constipation and gastric sufferings. The pains also may be of a tensive or drawing character, and be particularly confined to the chest, loins, and back.

Dose

A powder, or six globules, once in three or four hours.

Arnica - will be of benefit given internally and also as an external application, when the joints feel as if bruised; hard, red and shining swelling; a crawling sensation and feeling as if paralysed; pains increased by motion.

It is frequently advisable to alternate in with Cham.

Dose

Three drops, or twelve globules, in a glass half full ol water, a tablespoonful every three hours.

Rhododendron

Pains worse during repose, and aggravated by rough or damp weather.

Dulcamara

Rheumatism following a severe attack of cold, and manifesting itself at night or during repose, and unattended with fever.

Causticum

Insupportable pains in the open air, relieved in bed or in the warmth of a room; or paralytic weakness or rigidity of the part affected.

Arsenicum

Burning, tearing pains, worse at night, aggravated by cold air, and relieved by heat.

China

Pains increased by the slightest touch, with perspiration and paralytic weakness of the part affected.

Ignatia

Contused or wrenching pains as if the flesh were torn from the bones, worse at night, and relieved by a change of posture.

Phosphorus

Pains excited by the slightest chill, and accompanied with headache and oppression of the chest.

Sulphur

An exceedingly valuable remedy in nearly all forms of chronic rheumatism, and particularly useful to rouse the system when it has in a measure lost its susceptibility to the appropriate remedy.

Dose

Of the above remedies two drops, or twelve globules, may be mixed with a tumbler of water, and a tablespoonful given at a dose; or a powder, or six globules, may be taken on the tongue. Give once in three, four, or six hours.

Nitric-acid has been a very successful remedy in my own practice, both in the acute and chronic forms of rheumatism. The prominent indications are, severe drawing and lacerating pains all over the body; or pains particularly affecting the joints, bones, and the upper and lower limbs. The joints feel weak and bruised, and are exceedingly sensitive, especially after exertion. Pains aggravated by cold or damp air; trembling or numb sensation in the limbs.

Dose

Three drops of the first dilution in four tablespoonsful of water, a tablespoonful once in four or six hours.

Where there is much heat in the affected part, the application of a napkin wrung out in cold water will often produce relief.

In the chronic forms of rheumatism lemon juice or lemonade may by given, often with the most happy results. Great benefit may also be derived, especially in chronic cases, where there is a tendency to paralysis, or rigidity of the joints, by the proper application of the u magnetic battery." The poles of the battery should bo so applied that a continuous current will pass through the limb or joint and also through the muscles affected from one end to the other. Thuja, Veratrum, Carb.-v., Lach., or Colocynth, may also be indicated in certain varieties of rheumatism.

Diet And Regimen

When fever is present, the diet should be similar to that in fevers. Those who are liable to attacks of rheumatism will often find it advantageous to wear next the skin, silk undershirts and drawers