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Neuralgia-A

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NEURALGIA.--A nervous affection characterised by acute, spasmodic pains along the course of a sensory nerve. Although every form of pain is the result of a nerve-action (and, therefore, a nerve-pain) common usage designates as neuralgia, or true nerve-pains, only those pains which, without any visible and tangible cause, appear in the region of a sensory nerve. This does not mean that neuralgia arises without being attributable to diseases which either are localised in the painful part or affect the entire organism. Severe affections of the blood, infectious diseases (especially influenza, rheumatism, typhoid fever and malaria), diabetes mellitus, and injuries must frequently be looked upon as the causes of severe neuralgic disturbances. In many cases an injury may long precede the neuralgic attack. In the disease known as SHINGLES, neuralgia in the form of intercostal pain precedes the eruption of blisters, and often persists even after the latter has been cured. In this disease neuralgia is the chief affection ; not the eruption. While an acute attack of rheumatic pains may be disagreeable enough, man usually grows most uneasy when afflicted with acute or chronic neuralgia.

It would seem natural that the patient would at once seek the services of a physician, who might be able to discover and remove the cause of the disease ; yet it is a well-known fact that most patients try every plaister, ointment, essence, powder, and pill before consulting the doctor, and then expect him to help immediately, although the affection has in the meanwhile become chronic. Many people will spend large sums of money in worthless experiments, and when they finally go to the doctor the disease has become so persistent that it can be treated successfully only with great difficulty.

The simple advice, " remove the cause," is often more readily given than carried out ; and in many cases it is impossible to desist from treating the symptom of the disease. In a number of other articles advice has been given as to the treatment of various neuralgic pains. See, for instance, BREAST, PAINFUL AFFECTIONS Or ; FACE, DISEASES OF ; ACHE ; MIGRAINE, etc. It remains, therefore, to describe only a small number of neuralgias under this heading.

Neuralgia of the teeth is a well-known affection. The pain, which often is all hut unbearable, is caused neither by an affection of the teeth nor by one of the jaws ; and, in its purest form, it occurs as " toothache of the pregnant." This pain may, in many cases, he removed as if by magic within one minute by bending the stretched head backward according to Nageli's head-stretching manipulation. As shown in Fig. 295, the palms of the hands are placed respectively under the chin and behind the back of the patient's head, whereupon the head is pulled strongly upward, and then bent backward as far as it will go. The patient remains in this position

for about one to one and a half minutes, when, in most cases, the pain will have disappeared. This treatment is especially efficacious in children and in pregnant women.

Neuralgic pains in the testicles may be relieved in similar manner by stretching the scrotum, provided that neither inflammation nor degeneration is at the bottom of the condition.

The intense pains which may torment young girls at the onset of menstruation often give way to a hot bath of roo° F. of half an hour's duration (to be taken in spite of the menstruation).

NEURASTHENIA.—See NERVOUS PROSTRATION.

NEURITIS.—Inflammation of a nerve. This affection, which is of very frequent occurrence, gives rise to intense pain, which increases when the affected part of the body is moved ; the patient endeavours, therefore, to keep as quiet as possible. Inflammation of the nerve-trunk may he due to direct injury (by pressure), to colds, or to the action of poisons either formed in the body (as in syphilis, diabetes mellitus, rheumatism, gout, influenza, etc.), or introduced into the body (as alcohol, arsenic, lead, or nicotine).

Multiple neuritis sometimes appears as an independent disease (beri-beri), accompanied with fever. It may attack a smaller or larger number of nPrves ; for instance, those of both legs, or those of the arms.

Treatment of neuritis consists in rest of the affected part of the body, careful embrocations, cupping, application of water and electricity, medica tion, regulation of the diet, and attention to the bowels. Caution should be given against incorrect and rough application of massage. The pains are successfully combated by certain medicines, compresses, etc.

NICOTINE-POISONING.—See TOBACCO-POISONING.

NIGHT-BLINDNESS.—See HF:M ERALOPI A.

NIGHTMARE.—An oppressive sensation experienced on awaking from a deep sleep beset with horrible dreams. The dreamer feels as if his throat were constricted and a weight placed upon his chest ; the breath conies in gasps. According to the old story, a gnome or sprite, which has found its way into the bed, is the cause of the condition. It is more likely, however, that certain indulgences at table on the previous evening. a stuffy atmosphere in the sleeping-room from failure to open a window, or calcified arteries of the heart, are asserting their presence.

An early and moderate supper, fresh air in the bedroom, light blankets, lying on the side, deep inspirations, a foot-bath before retiring, and attention to the bowels, are usually sufficient to disperse the ghostly visitor, unless some cardiac irregularity has been diagnosed by the physician.