(From distorqueo, to wrest aside). It is applied to the eyes, when a person seems to turn them from the object he would look at, and is then called squinting. (See Strabismus.) It also signifies >he bending of a bone preternaturally to one side. See Bell's Surgery, vol. vi. p. 281.

Distortio spinae, vel vertebrarum. Distortion of the spine. In this disease, the spine becomes more or less curved, and the power of the lower limbs is usually lessened or destroyed. Mr. Pott calls it a kind of palsy in the lower limbs; in another place he speaks of it as a useless state of them. From his account of the disease, it hath a scrofulous origin; but as its most striking symptoms are from the caries, which takes place in the bodies of some of the vertebrae, may it not be properly termed the strumous spinal caries? Mr. Bell, in his Surgery, vol. vi. p. 294, calls it distortion of the spine.

In this disease, the lower limbs are gradually weakened, or their power is wholly lost. A curvature of the spine nearly about the middle of the lumbar vertebrae is observed, with a crackling sound on bending them. It is sometimes said to take place on the neck, and to be attended with the same effects on the upper extremities; "but we recollect no well authenticated case of this kind.

To this distemper both sexes, and all ages, are equally liable; though the majority of these patients are infants or young children.

When the attack is made on an infant of only one or two years old, the true cause is rarely discovered until some time after the effect has taken place; the nurse or parents suppose that the child is weakly, or hath been hurt at its birth. When, on the attack, the patient hath been used to walk, the loss of the use of his legs is gradual, though not in general very slow. At first he shows signs of being soon tired; he is languid, listless, and unwilling to move much, or briskly; soon after he is observed frequently to trip, although there be no impediment in his way. When he attempts to move quickly, his legs involuntarily cross each other, and he is frequently thrown down suddenly, and upon endeavouring to stand still and erect, even for a few minutes, his knees give way, and bend forward. When the dis-lempef is a little farther advanced, it will be found that he cannot, without much difficulty, direct either of his feet precisely to any exact point; and very soon alter, both thighs and legs lose their sensibility, and become gradually paralytic. When an adult is thus affected, the progress of the distemper is much the same, but more rapid. Arrived at this state, whatever be the age or sex of the patient, complaint is made of twitching and frequent pains in the thighs, particularly when in bed, and of uneasy sensation at the pit of the stomach; when he sits on a chair or a stool, his legs are almost always found across each other, and drawn up under the seat; the power of walking is soon afterwards lost.

The true curvature is usually from within outwards; sometimes on one side, and sometimes there is a counter curvature resembling an S. This curve of the spine varies in situation, extent, and degree, being either in the lower, or, more rarely, in the upper part of the loins; sometimes comprehending one vertebra only, sometimes two, three, or more; by which the curve becomes necessarily more extensive: but, whatever variety these circumstances may admit, the lower limbs most frequently feel the effect. The arms are said to be sometimes paralytic; and a few instances are said by Dr. Motherby to have occurred, in which both legs and arms were affected. The effect is also different in different subjects; some are rendered totally and absolutely incapable of walking very early, or soon after the appearance of the curvature; others can move with the help of crutches, or by grasping their thighs just above the knees with their hands: some can sit in an erect posture or in a chair without much fatigue; others are incapable of it for any time: some have such a degree of motion in their legs or thighs, as to enable them to turn and move for their own convenience in bed; others cannot move without assistance.

When a naturally weak infant is the subject, the curvature is in the vertebrae of the back: it is not un-frequently productive of additional deformity by gradually rendering the whole back what is vulgarly called humped; and by subsequent alterations, such persons are shortened in their stature, and debilitated in their constitution; but in all cases where this effect has been gradually produced, whatever alteration made in the disposition of the ribs and sternum may contribute to such deformity, it will always be found that the-curvature of the spine appeared first, and was the chief complaint. Such curvatures, however, do not produce paralysis in either extremity. The reason is, that, in general, the angle is less acute, so that the nerves are not injured; but should any be compressed, their fibres in these central cavities are so much intermixed in plexuses and ganglia, that the parts are weakened only, and their functions impaired, not destroyed. The chief inconveniences arise from the subsequent contraction of the chest and abdomen.

The general health of the patient does not seem, at first, to be materially affected; but when the disease has continued some time, and the curvature is thereby increased, many inconveniences and complaints follow. When the incurvation is in the neck, and to a considerable degree, by affecting several vertebrae, the child finds it inconvenient and painful to support its head, and is always desirous of laying it on a table or pillow, to take off the weight.- When in the dorsal vertebrae, there are a difficulty of breathing, loss of appetite, indigestion, dry cough, quick pulse, what is styled tightness at the stomach, obstinate constipations or purg-ings, involuntary flow of urine and faeces, with the addition of what are called nervous complaints.