Spasm, an irregular and involuntary contraction of the muscles, generally accompanied with painful sensations : this complaint has, of late years, made such rapid and formidable progress, especially among the female sex, | demand serious attention.
Spams are either general, where many or most of the muscles are attacked (as in tetanus, catalepsis, etc.) ; or partial, when the contraction is confined to single muscles, for instance, of the jaw, of the throat, and other parts, which have been stated under their respective heads.
Among the chief, pre-disposing causes, is an irritable, weak, nervous system ; while the occasional ones are, passions of the mind ; injury produced by external violence, by poisons, of every description ; worms; suppressed perspiration; cosmetics and lotions ; repelled cutaneous eruptions ; and whatever may induce an increased action of the nerves and muscles. - Nothing, indeed, has so evidently contributed to the frequency of this af-fection, as the detective modern education, particularly of females; and according to which, children are considered as adults; they are allowed to read seductive books ; to it in an improper, or at least, unbecoming manner; and even infants are suffered to partake .of tea, wine, and spirituous liquors, under the pretext of using them as medicines.
The danger attending spasmodic paroxysms, depends on the greater or less violence of the attack : - if they proceed from too profuse evacuations, there is great danger to be apprehended ; as the patient is already exhausted. - Where spasms are occasioned by the taking of mineral or animal poisons; or, if the patient labour under an acute fever, the event is generally fatal.
Cure : - The first step will be to remove the irritating cause; and next, to restore tone to the organs: thus, if the spasm originate from an injury by a sharp instrument, such as a needle, especially if a piece of it remain in the wound, it ought to be immediately extracted. - During the fit, clysters made of a decoction of chamomile flowers, with a dram of ipecacuhana, asa-foetida, or other antispasmodics, to be repeated every two or three hours, will afford the greatest relief: beside these, recourse may be had to warm-baths, frictions, and the application of volatile liniments. - If the teeth are not too closely shut, half a tea-spoonful of either the tinctures of castor, asa-foetida, or valerian, diluted with a table-spoonful of water, may be introduced through the mouth. - Next, it will be necessary to regulate the treatment according to the cause of the malady. If it arise from a suppression of cutaneous disorders, blistering plasters, and other artificial issues, will be the most proper means of restoring the discharge of humours : if it proceed from too tight shoes, or other garments, the part should be rubbed with warm oil, till it become soft: and then a tight bandage be applied around it: the leg should afterwards be bathed in cold water impregnated with scales of iron, or rubbed with volatile liniment : - if induced by woRms (which see) suitable remedies must be administered. - But, where it originates from mental causes, the cure itself ought to consist of moral remedies; as physical means would, in general, be found inadequate.
With a view to re-invigorate the system, and to prevent future attacks, decoctions of quassia, wormwood, chamomile, Peruvian bark, valerian, and other antispasmodics, may be taken with advantage, especially when conjoined with cold bathing; and, in cases of worms, with the liberal use of red-port; a glass of which may, for that purpose, be drunk every morning, on an empty stomach.