St. Vitus's Dance, a spasmodic disorder, mostly incident to young persons of both sexes, from the age of ten to fifteen : it is distinguished by continual involuntary motions of the hands and feet; so that the patient appears in a manner to dance, while he is obliged to drag one leg after the other.
However distressing this complaint be to the patient and his friends, it may afford some consolation, that it neither proves fatal nor permanent ; and that frequently, after every mean has been employed, it spontaneously disappears. - A favourable change may, in general, be expected about the age of puberty.
Cure : - As it is often difficult to ascertain the cause of this malady, it will he proper to administer such medicines as are calculated to carry off worms (see the article Worm) ; and to allay the spasmodic motions. With the latter intention, antispasmodics and tonics, namely, Asafoe-tida, Valerian-root, Wormwood, Musk in conjunction with Bark and Port-wine, etc. have often been attended with good effects, farther, the remedies directed in the epilepsy, may also, with advantage, be so modified as to be salutary in this complaint. - Lastly, we conceive that the tepid hath may always with safety, if not with uniform benefit, be resorted to; especially in an affection which obviously arises from a preternatural irritability of the nerves and muscles. On the other hand, the cold sea-bath will probably be of great service, when the skin of a robust patient is not in a dry, contrasted state ; and when there appears to be a sufficient degree of re-action in the system, to withstand the sudden shock of the water.